Despite strong objections from environmentalists and Key Biscayne residents, Miami commissioners held fast Thursday and rejected an appeal challenging plans to build an $18 million park and event space on the grounds of Miami Marine Stadium.
The decision allows the city’s administration to move forward with construction of the outdoor facility, which includes paving over the grounds east of the stadium and installing utilities to facilitate a move to the site by the Miami International Boat Show. But the show’s parent company, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, must still navigate some choppy waters.
The association is fighting a lawsuit filed by the village of Key Biscayne, and seeking a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build floating docks and walkways in the basin big enough to cover four football fields. There’s also a pending lawsuit between Key Biscayne and Miami, which necessitates a joint meeting by the municipalities’ elected officials to try to work things out before heading to court.
With the boat show seemingly growing along with the time the show will occupy the site, Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, who represents Virginia Key, said he’s growing wary of the project. The association wants to run the boat show during President’s Day weekend next year. Organizers had said they would need the site for three weeks, now they’re talking about three months.
“There’s going to come a time when I get off this boat,” he said.
Sarnoff joined the commission in unanimously rejecting the village’s appeal of the project, which was approved last month by Miami’s Historic Environmental and Preservation Board. The board reviewed the project because the stadium and the basin are a historic site, and the park and event space are adjacent to the stadium.
Key Biscayne Mayor Mayra Peña Lindsay argued that the board and the commission were reviewing incomplete plans that failed to show the portion of the boat show that extends into the basin. She also said the city plans to pave over a circle that originally functioned as a fountain, and that the village hasn’t signed its agreement with the boat show.
“Things are not being done in a transparent manner,” she said.
However, Key Biscayne will get a seat at the table when it comes to planning out the future of the site. Commissioners voted late Thursday to convene a 15-member advisory committee, including two members from Key Biscayne.
In other action Thursday:
- Commissioners voted to expand Miami’s trolley system into East Little Havana, Wynwood and Coconut Grove over the next several years at a cost of about $1.5 million. The city will seek matching funds from the Florida Department of Transportation.
- A re-zoning request by the Institute of Contemporary Art will be fast-tracked after Mayor Tomás Regalado, concerned about a potential months-long delay, brought a last-minute “pocket item” to force the city’s Planning Zoning and Appeals board to rehear the museum’s application next month.