waterfront board still playing key role along shore
the City of Miami considers myriad plans for Watson Island, Virginia
Key, Bicentennial Park and other ocean- and bay-front properties,
Miami's Waterfront Advisory Board is facing a full agenda.
things considered, we don't have a whole lot of waterfront land left,"
said Robert Parente, the board's new chairman. "Waterfront land
is one of the last bastions of free Miami magic. It doesn't cost you
a dime to pull off the roadway with your kids and watch the cruise
ships or the seaplanes or to just look at the water."
public access to the water while acknowledging the city's need to
leverage its assets is a delicate balancing act, he said.
12-member board was created in the early 1980s during the mayoral
tenure of Maurice Ferre and, Mr. Parente said, "its powers have
never really changed.
an advisory board, not a quasi-legislative organization." Any
major waterfront use, he said, has to go through the board for review.
no shortage of issues as Mr. Parente takes leadership.
hotbeds of controversy is Watson Island itself. There, plans for the
Parrot Jungle tourist attraction and cruise ship terminals are on
the drawing boards.
praising the Parrot Jungle proposal as a win-win plan, Mr. Parente
said the board is leaning more toward a mega-yacht marina than cruise
ship terminals for Port of Miami as among best uses for the island
just east of downtown Miami.
marinas dock and handle private vessels of more than 80 feet, an extremely
lucrative and environmentally friendly industry.
could do an incredible business because we have a premier location.
Someone can dock their boat, go see the Heat play, go to Joe's Stone
Crab restaurant what a dream life!
yachts spend a ton of dough on flowers, food, all kinds of
things," Mr. Parente said. "Right now, Fort Lauderdale is
eating our lunch."
uses eventually are put into place on the island should "carry
out a mission that includes employment and economic opportunities
for the inner city," Mr. Parente said.
directive, he said, includes the present tenants, the Miami Outboard
Club and Miami Yacht Club.
law, these clubs have to have an open-door policy. But they don't
exactly go beat the bushes for new members. I'd like to see the public
be able to understand more about the water and be more encouraged
acknowledging that "by and large, these organizations have done
a good job," Mr. Parente said, city leases without which
the clubs couldn't exist mandate them to "give something
back," a process the waterfront board encourages.
crazy to know there are kids in Overtown who don't know there's an
ocean 10 blocks away; they've never been on a boat."
the opposite side of downtown Miami, plans are afoot to revitalize
Dinner Key Marina in Coconut Grove and its adjacent exhibition space.
met with the Miami Commission and with people who have knowledge of
the marine industry. They tell us the marina is undervalued. Though
it's run OK now, it's not one of the best marinas."
he praised Dinner Key's operation under Christina Abrams, the city's
director of public facilities and conventions, and acknowledged that
the marina brings in about $1.5 million a year, "it's not really
in the shape where it can tout itself," Mr. Parente said.
Key is a question mark," he said. A project to renovate the boat
docks to the south of the auditorium is in discussion, but Mr. Parente
said he'd like to see a more integrated approach.
believe the bayfront stretches from Kennedy Park south to Peacock
Park, including Dinner Key and the two private boating clubs. If someone
had taken a master plan approach when it was all being developed,
you wouldn't have the piecemeal approach you have now."
that development of some sort is bound to come to Dinner Key, the
waterfront board will try to see that the city gives significant weight
to the needs of the developers and the public.
understand the city commission is desperate to find revenue. We agree
with that, but not at the expense of parks. It seems to be a favorite
place where people see untapped revenue."
Bicentennial Park, "we were first to say 'no' to the Marlins,"
Mr. Parente said.
board, backed by Miami Commissioner Johnny Winton, also opposed a
move by Mayor Joe Carollo to fill in the FEC slip at Bicentennial
Winton, quite wisely, said you're throwing away money unless the city
is going to sell or develop it, both of which the mayor said he didn't
want to do." The cost to fill the slip is estimated at $4 million.
new committee a subcommittee of the Bayfront Park Management
Trust has been formed to oversee Bicentennial, which is prudent,
Mr. Parente said, because "the baseball thing has not gone away."
Key, north of Rickenbacker Causeway between mainland Miami and Key
Biscayne, has been the subject of redevelopment speculation for more
than a decade. Plans include replacing a marine stadium there that
suffered structural damage years ago from Hurricane Andrew.
city several years ago entertained the possibility of an ecological
campground and marina but only one response was received to a request
for proposals. By city ordinance, any bid that draws fewer than three
proposals must be put to a vote; the lone proposal didn't pass muster
with the voters.
in Virginia Key then went dormant," Mr. Parente said. Now, he
said, with plans for a possible windsurfing beach and "some sort
of redevelopment" for the marine stadium, the area is heating
thinking was, the marine stadium must come down immediately and absolutely."
reports suggest that the stadium can be repaired, Mr. Parente said,
but "until we can sit down with all the players the MAST
Academy (the marine science magnet school,) the Rusty Pelican restaurant
and others we can't strike a balance in this area."
favorite plan, which he describes as "way radical," is to
improve and landscape the little-used beach and to ban cars in favor
of a separate parking lot and beach access through shuttle buses.
could tie the whole plan together and it could be a great place for
people to re-create, have a nice series of concerts, enjoy the beach.
And the whole thing would be shielded from the road, from the traffic."
evaluation of the key's potential is under way now and should be available
for the board to discuss next month, Mr. Parente said.
Miami Waterfront Board meets on the second Tuesday of the month at
Miami City Hall.