There are no businesses, traffic lights or town hall. No fire or police department. In fact, this village’s “main street” is literally the only street, called Lazy Lane.
But while the village of Lazy Lake may be small, its past is big and colorful, shaped by passionate residents who always stood ready to fight for their independence.
In 1925, Edward Willingham, original plat creator of Wilton Manors, quarried the Lazy Lake area for stone to build roads and foundations for his own community. The resulting rock pit then filled with water. No one could have imagined that this gaping pit would someday become the visual centerpiece and naming inspiration for an entire community.
Fast forward to 1943. John Pedersen, a developer and speculator, had an interest in the sub-division. Apparently he also had an obsession with goldfish and felt the lake (a.k.a. old rock pit) should be stocked with them. (No other fish. Just goldfish.) So he dumped something into the water to kill the remaining fish. Unfortunately for Pedersen – and everyone else within remote sniffing distance – there were way more existing fish than he realized and the stink he created permeated for miles.
Either this Great GoldFish Debacle of 1943 or something else kept the area undeveloped for several more years. It wasn’t until 1946 that Charles H. Lindfors bought the land and partnered with Hal Ratliff, a developer and contractor, and architect Clinton Gamble to create the new community of Lazy Lake.
Ratliff had a vision: a low-key neighborhood with lush forestry that assured every homeowner privacy and anonymity. The community was christened when Ratliff’s friend remarked that the lake looked "so lazy and peaceful." The three founders’ homes were the first ones built.
The following year, Wilton Manors urged the then-seven Lazy Lake homeowners to join them as one united city to stave off annexation by Fort Lauderdale or Oakland Park. Lazy Lake declined. In 1953, as Wilton Manors prepared to vote themselves an independent entity, Lazy Lakers did more than decline. The 30 residents took destiny into their own hands, voting themselves an independent entity too, to prevent any future takeovers. Charles H. Lindfors was elected the village mayor and served eight terms.
In 1969, Wilton Manors targeted them for annexation again, with one Wilton Manors council member dismissing the town as “a great big septic tank”. Later that same year, a big scandal occurred when a raid on a bookmaking racket pulling in $500k-$1 million was discovered operating out of the garage of Lazy Lake’s Police Chief.
It was a new decade – and time for another Lazy Lake news headline. In 1977, all city council voting results were thrown out by a Broward County Circuit Court judge. Apparently mimeographed ballots stuffed into a size 9D shoebox didn’t quite meet legal election standards. Ever since, Lazy Lake residents have cast their ballots in Wilton Manors.
Facing what must have been a very slow news summer in 1987, the Star, a tabloid newspaper, put Lazy Lake on the map with a published story about the village, delivering a little fame – or notoriety – depending upon who you asked. The story branded the village “TinyTown USA,” a hotbed of tranquility.
In 1995, after years of discussion, village residents decided to put the town up for sale as a total package. The price tag? $15 million. It was a little rich, given that the combined value of all homes totaled just $2 million. But hey, you could own your own village. Bragging rights were worth at least $13 million extra, right?
There were actually nibbles: from a Kuwait prince. From O.J. Simpson. And from a few others. But alas, no deals. Two years later, the village took itself off the market.
Today, 16 households make up the sum total of Lazy Lake, with a population of 24 residents, according to the 2010 Census. It’s still its own incorporated municipality, surrounded by the city of Wilton Manors who provides services and support.
Historical resources: sunny.org and Wilton Manors Historical Society
Learn more about Lazy Lake from the Wilton Manors Historical Society!