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Press Release

 

From the Urban Environment League of Greater Miami Regarding: Resolution on Miami Marine Stadium

For Immediate Release: November 18, 2014

2:30 Pm

Further Contact: Grace Solares, President: 305-798-9568

Gregory Bush, Vice President: 305-926-5001

Like many others, the Urban Environment League has worked hard to preserve the Miami Marine Stadium. We organized various public design workshops that resulted in a public outpouring of sentiment against the city’s earlier Master Plan for the island. The final Master Plan for Virginia Key unanimously passed by the city in July 2010 clearly sought to preserve the stadium among a number of allied actions, including creation of a Virginia Key Planning Oversight Board for the entire island, enhanced public transportation modes around the island and other features aimed at a more integrated and well-planned island.  Much of the Master Plan has not yet been acted on.  By 2012, a steering committee consisting of a 13 member task force was created to oversee the issues related to funding and operations for the revival of the stadium itself.

The UEL wishes to raise some important questions and concerns about the process that has brought us to this stage:

We believe there has been inadequate vetting and public oversight of the recent proposals to involve the Miami International Boat show and other private entities as well as the Friends of Miami Marine Stadium (FMMS) in a lease agreement. This would include getting input from the municipality most impacted by this project.

Why is the earlier questionable use of (MSEA) Miami Sports and Exhibition Authority now being circumvented as stated in the legislation? In the interests of transparency why was it convenient to use MSEA up to this point in the process but now no longer involves them as a contractual party?

The 2010 Master Plan called for a multifunctional permanent building to be used as a welcome/maritime center for the entire island as well as a venue for kayak and bicycle rentals, an arts and crafts area, including restaurant/s and a single sales room for boat sales. We think it is entirely wrong to have that building be predominantly used as a convention center or sales location for boat buyers while not providing more benefit for public use. Before final plans for such a building are approved there should be a public process to insure that the original intent of the Master plan has been followed.

We question giving FMMS such a long term Lease agreement with various questionable private entities when they have not as yet come up with the required $30 million initial target fundraising sum. We want to make sure that the city has fully vetted their operating plan.

We still question whether such large concrete structures should be placed on a barrier island when climate change will severely impact the area within 20-30 years. We should have better planning for long-term investments – by private or public entities.

We believe that further assurances are needed that this land is publicly owned and that as much free access be allowed as possible.

Finally, the fact that no Virginia Key Planning Oversight Board for the entire island was ever created as the 2010 Master Plan clearly specified should be rectified as soon as possible and in time to provide oversight for this project. All commissioners and the Mayor had originally agreed to such a body and we urge the Mayor to appoint such a board immediately so all aspects of this stadium plan can be properly vetted.

The Urban Environment League recommends that Commissioners defer the Marine Stadium item on November 20th.  We would like to see the City, citizens and the media receive full access to all the documents so a transparent and public vetting can take place. Too often we have seen the City of Miami rush into "deals" with the private sector, with disastrous results.  

 Grace Solares, President, Urban Environment League