Speak Up

Why Key Biscayne did not stop Ultra in 2015

Former Miami commissioner Marc Sarnoff posited in his April 12 letter, “Yes, Key Biscayne could have stopped Ultra, but failed to do so,” because the Key did not consummate a settlement agreement with Miami in 2015.

He alludes to a seat-at-the-table for Key Biscayne on a Virginia Key conservancy had we acted otherwise. I sympathize with his thought about investing time and effort fruitlessly, which prompts me to expand on the story.

After careful consideration of several factors, the Key Biscayne Village Council decided that it was in our community’s best interest not to approve the 2015 proposal.

Then, and thereafter, Ultra was not a subject of discussion other than as a consensus example of what should never happen on Virginia Key.

Shortly after the deal’s demise, the council tasked me with seeking a Boat Show settlement with Miami and the show’s sponsor. Following a two-year negotiation with the current District 2 Commissioner, supported by city staff and Boat Show representatives, we reached a proposed final settlement about a year ago.

Before the deal came to Key Biscayne, Miami’s commission killed it by a two-to-two vote, with a fifth member present but not making it to the dais.

The No votes railed against ceding sovereign authority, unimpressed that the agreement did no such thing, and that their colleagues’ comments had been addressed throughout the patient, protracted negotiation. Some on our council regretted our investment of time and effort, only to be disappointed by what seemed to be an arbitrary pivot.

The story could have and should have had a better outcome.

An encouraging lesson came from the experience though: A healthy regional partnership is possible and desirable.

Franklin Caplan,

former mayor and councilmember,

Key Biscayne