Candidates line up to manage Miami's Bayfront, Bicentennial parks
By Paola Iuspa
More than 70 candidates are lining up to fill the position of Bayfront Park Management Trust executive director, a post vacated a month ago.
Frank Balzebre, a trust member leading the search, said the number of applicants would be narrowed to 30 by Friday.
After the trust's five-member search committee checks applicant backgrounds and references, it should come up with a list of about 10 candidates to present to the trust's nine-member board on May 28.
Mr. Balzebre said the Miami City Commission would have the last say on who is selected. "We expect the commission to make a final decision in June," he said.
The trust was created in 1987 by commissioners to manage the 32-acre Bayfront Park and 29-acre Bicentennial Park in downtown Miami, between Biscayne Boulevard and Biscayne Bay.
Tim Schmand, the trust's former administrative director and now an applicant for the open job, is interim director, Mr. Balzebre said.
Mr. Schmand said he started working for the trust in 1992 writing grants.
After a two-year term, Jay Constanz, the former executive director resigned in March to take a management job at the Robert First Center for the Arts Hall at Georgia Tech University in Atlanta.
Mr. Balzebre said he was not surprised at the shower of resumes the group got after a month of advertising in local publications and on its website. April 19 was the deadline for applications.
"Due to Jay's success and the surplus," he said, referring to a budget surplus, "it is a very attractive job. We are getting a lot of new businesses in the park, and it is becoming renown."
Mr. Constanz, who has been retained as a consultant to help select his successor, said there is a $1.4 million reserve accumulated in less than two years. Those funds, he said, are earmarked for park improvements.
Mr. Constanz took over the trust in early 2000 in the middle of financial chaos that launched a criminal investigation into misuse of funds, which is still pending, said Miami Commissioner Joe Sanchez, chair of the trust's board.
"Jay's professionalism and expertise turned things around," he said. "Today promoters pay for their events at the parks and the trust makes money. In the past it was the other way around."
Mr. Sanchez said he is staying away from the selection process but he would cheer for anyone able to run the trust as a business.
"We need someone who won't be manipulated or intimidated by elected officials," he said.
Mr. Constanz said the executive director would need to have a "strong character" to avoid being influenced by politics. He said some event promoters have friends in high places, including the city administration and community-based groups, and often try to get park fees waived or reduced.
Besides promoting and booking events for both parks, the executive director must prepare an annual budget, develop maintenance programs and negotiate event contracts.
That person may also run the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, a 1,700-seat theater managed by the Miami Parking Authority, said Oscar Rivero, an authority board member who said he has been asked to take part in the search committee.
The authority and the trust worked out last year an agreement in which Mr. Constanz started running the Gusman Center, 174 E Flagler St., as well as the two parks.
"But that agreement started and ended with Jay," Mr. Rivero said. "We may have a similar contract with the new executive director, but only if the authority approves it. Otherwise, the authority may hire somebody else to run the Gusman Center."
The annual salary for the new director would range from $85,000 to $100,000, depending on whether the Gusman is part of the deal, Mr. Balzebre said.
Job requirements include a bachelor's degree in public or business administration or facility management and a minimum of five years experience in the management and operation of a convention center, theater, auditorium or other public assembly facility, with a minimum of three years of executive-level experience, according to the ad.
Some board members said at this week's monthly trust meeting that they would like Mr. Schmand to remain in the post. But he said board members should follow the hiring procedure. Although he said he is prepared to run the trust, the search committee still has the obligation to look for some one more qualified.
"If they hire somebody else," he said, "I would be willing to stay as the administrative director. But that would depend on the new executive director, who has the right to hire and fire personnel."