Last year, the run-up to the inaugural Miami International Boat Show on Virginia Key was choppy, to say the least.
While hustling to build a massive grid of piers and an upland campus from scratch, the National Marine Manufacturers Association was also juggling lawsuits and appeals by the neighboring Village of Key Biscayne challenging its city, county and state permits. The two sides engaged in dueling public relations campaigns, and even had competing websites.
This year, though, as the Boat Show returns for its encore performance, it’s been smooth sailing.
The village continues to pursue its litigation, driven primarily by the city of Miami’s efforts to reactivate the area of Virginia Key along the Rickenbacker Causeway, the one way in and out of the village. But the acrimony — once dialed up to 11 — seems to have completely disappeared.
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“This is our long-term home,” said Ben Wold, manager of the show, which until last year had been held for decades at the Miami Beach Convention Center. “I think the good news is everyone agrees the Boat Show is an important event that needs to be here.”
That’s mostly true, but not entirely.
Key Biscayne Mayor Mayra Peña Lindsay continues to hold that the Boat Show is an event that, while vital to the county’s economy, would be better off at a different location. But she admits that steps taken by the show’s organizers and by Miami’s mayor and commission to include Key Biscayne have allayed some of the alarm in the tony village.
For now, the village hopes to work out its issues through conflict resolution with the county, and continues to talk about a potential settlement with the city. But the litigation isn’t over, and Lindsay said she’ll continue to monitor the show for any flareups.
“I really wish the boat show well. We’ve always maintained we as a village support the boat show,” she said. “We just don’t think that’s the optimal home for many reasons.”