Reiter Park was created by the City of Longwood in 1980. It was named for longtime, prominent citizen Jimmy Reiter. The park was on land previously owned by the Reiter family, who homesteaded on 30 acres off of Warren Avenue in 1919. Much of the land that is now the park was at one time swamp and muck land, which was gradually filled in or drained through the construction of drainage ponds.
Jimmy Reiter donated to the City the one-acre parcel that is now the fire department; the city purchased the adjacent 4 acres for the park from Reiter at a cost of $45,000 in October 1980. He continued to live on the acreage next door between the park and Lemon Street (across from the Hospital), where he was continued to run his horses as he had for over 60 years. That area (prior to the surrounding subdivisions going in) was once known as “Mud Prairie” by locals.
Reiter was the founder of the Longwood Volunteer Fire Department and served as city commissioner for 13 years. He was known as one of the nicest guys in town and was always there to step up whenever the city needed help with anything. He was the last person grandfathered in by the City Commission to be allowed to have farm animals; it was against new town ordinance, but no one on the commission had the heart to tell Jimmy he had to get rid of his horses! He lived at the homestead until his death in 1987.
Initially the park was created as a recreational complex; however, in the years that followed the city began to look at it as a potential crown jewel. After the city’s historic district renovations began to gain momentum and especially after the construction of the new Community Building and Sunrail station, those plans accelerated. In 2015 a new major phase in the park upgrades began. The park had its soft open in September and was completed in October 2018.
Reiter Park will serve as a hub for activity and social gatherings from concerts and festivals to food trucks and expos. The park will be a keynote feature in the next phase of Longwood’s continued downtown revitalization. The Longwood Historic Society runs its Monster Dash 5K through the park.