While the Miami International Boat Show’s organizers tout the success of last week’s event, Miami-Dade County residents are left with what feels like a bad hangover. As city and county officials conduct their post-mortem on its impacts, there is no appropriate decision, but to relocate the boat show to a more appropriate venue next year.
With one road in and one road out, traffic presented a major obstacle that was only overcome after spending close to $1 million. Access to the public waterfront was shuttered for weeks. Litter was left strewn across our shoreline and the event’s flawed water taxi system had people waiting in line for hours and exposed Biscayne Bay’s fragile ecosystem as they crisscrossed through sensitive marine life.
Further exacerbating this issue were the dozens of high speed boats conducting sea trials, creating a virtual free-for-all that may have contributed to the death of the manatee killed this weekend.
Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin isn’t equipped to host events of this size. The boat show’s organizer may claim that this is simply a learning curve that will get better with time, but it cannot create more waterway in a basin already stretched to capacity.
What Miami-Dade deserves, what residents, taxpayers and tourists alike should demand, is a properly restored Marine Stadium and an open waterfront park that is accessible year-round, as outlined in Virginia Key’s master plan.
The boat show may bring with it a short-term boost in economic impact; however, it cannot and should not come at the expense of our environment. Miami’s natural beauty is its strongest commodity and destroying one of its greatest marine shorelines is a detriment to us all.
The Boat Show wasn’t the success its organizers want us all to believe and it should never be allowed to drop anchor at Virginia Key again.
Mayra Peña Lindsay, mayor, Village of Key Biscayne