Letters to the Editor

Yes, Key Biscayne could have stopped Ultra, but failed to do so

Lessons learned at Ultra Music Festival

Ray Martinez, chief of security and spokesman for Ultra Music Festival, gave a wrap-up and took questions regarding the three-day Ultra Music Festival during the event's press conference near Hobie Beach in Miami, Florida, on Monday, April 1, 2019.
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Ray Martinez, chief of security and spokesman for Ultra Music Festival, gave a wrap-up and took questions regarding the three-day Ultra Music Festival during the event's press conference near Hobie Beach in Miami, Florida, on Monday, April 1, 2019.

The village of Key Biscayne sued the city of Miami in early 2015 to prevent the boat show from coming to the city of Miami and Virginia Key, by the Marine Stadium.

The Miami Commission appointed me to negotiate with the Key to see if we could work out a viable solution.

After seven days of mediated sessions, starting in July 2015, a mediated solution was agreed to that would have provided the Key a seat at the table (a proposed conservancy with equal voting rights, for any events that could not be agreed to would go to arbitration).

In this agreement, Key Biscayne would have provided a sizable cash payment, together with funds for the construction of a soccer park with more than four full-size fields as well as numerous children’s fields.

There were smaller events that could occur as a matter of right; the boat show was agreed to be an approved event, but larger events were required to seek approval from the Conservancy. Specifically precluded from occurring was Ultra Music Festival.

All sitting in that negotiation knew it needed both Miami Commission and Key Biscayne Village Council approval, and the agreement was made.

But within an hour of the agreement, the Key publicly announced that it would not agree to the mediated settlement and then argued there was no meeting of the minds.

We who labored on making the deal (the city manager, city attorney and director of parks) for seven long days wondered why we invested so much time and effort.

But now it is Key Biscayne that must be wondering: “How did that opportunity get away from us?”

Marc Sarnoff,

former Miami Commissioner, District 2

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