Winton To Form Panel To Guide Creation Of Bay Walk
By Susan Stabley
Miami City Commissioner Johnny Winton will handpick a team to guide creation of a downtown walkway along Biscayne Bay from Margaret Pace Park to the mouth of the Miami River.
Forming a bay-walk steering committee is the first and most important step to realize a vision that has no real plan, Commissioner Winton said during a Jan. 28 public hearing at Miami Children’s Museum.
"First of all, we don’t have a real plan," Commissioner Winton told more than 70 people, including a panel of waterfront-property owners and members of the Bayfront Park Trust and the Waterfront Advisory Board. "We have no idea what this bay walk is going to cost."
Commissioner Winton said the committee he will put together in the next few weeks will hire a consultant to determine the cost and timeline for planning and building a walkway.
More funds may be available for major projects in the city in the next few years. The city’s increased tax base and lower rates have allowed the city to move faster on its $255 bond revenues from 2001, and Commissioner Winton hinted that if the city’s economy continues to flourish, another bond referendum could be considered. The current funds was to be doled out over 10 years, pending the impact on millage rates, he said. Two years ago, $155 million was distributed, and Commissioner Winton said the remaining $100 million should go out this spring.
There are many properties to acquire to make the proposed bay walk work, said city consultant Bob Weinreb, including a chunk of waterfront land at Venetian Causeway and Port Boulevard and in front of the historic 104-year-old Miami Woman’s Club building at 1737 N. Bayshore Drive.
The proposed bay walk fits into plans for a larger access plan for Biscayne Bay, said Amy Condon of the Trust for Public Land, a national non-profit group that seeks land conservation for the public good. "This fits into much larger issues," she said, including greenway projects that are under way along the Miami River and in Overtown.
Other projects that link with the bay-walk vision include Museum Park Miami and the repair of a seawall at Bicentennial Park, a realignment of Biscayne Boulevard and development of park space at the strip of land just east of American Airlines Arena known as Maritime Park.
Conservation group Urban Environment League of Greater Miami has pressured local officials to preserve the land next to the arena, and the group’s president, Nancy Liebman, raised the topic during the bay-walk public hearing.