Editorial calls for one-year permit for Miami show site

The Miami Herald issued an editorial recommending the show spend one year at the Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin and then find another venue.
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On the eve of Miami-Dade County leaders making a pivotal decision critical to the Miami International Boat Show, the Miami Herald issued an editorial recommending the show spend one year at the Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin and then find another venue.

Show organizers have said they intend to make the venue on Virginia Key a permanent home, but that idea has met severe opposition from leaders of neighboring Key Biscayne.

The editorial calls on Miami-Dade County Commissioners, who voted to delay approval of a permit needed for the in-water portion of the show until today, to allow a one-year permit instead of a three-year permit, as requested.

“Commissioner Xavier Suarez told the editorial board Monday that he has been exploring another location for the boat show — inside PortMiami, the same site initially coveted by David Beckham for his Major League Soccer stadium. It’s worth considering — it’s a start,” the editorial board wrote.

“But there’s a catch: The boat show would be allowed to go on at the Marine Stadium this year and then move to a new site next year,” the editorial said. “The county would only issue a one-year permit, not a three-year permit, as the boat show requested. Mr. Suarez’s colleagues should support this third way, giving all time to correct the slipshod approach that has gotten us to this point.”

The Herald disputes assertions by the organizer, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, that the show will not cause environmental damage, saying Suarez will also likely request a reduction in the slips allowed. That number stands at 830, although organizers have said they only intend to use 500 at the most.

“That’s just what he should do to mitigate environmental damage — yes, there will be damage — especially from the pilings that will be driven into the basin floor,” the editorial said.

Miami Commissioner Ken Russell, who represents the area, told the editorial board that Suarez’s compromise sounds promising. “Whatever creates the least impact on Virginia Key, I support,” he said.

Although a letter to the editor in Sunday’s Miami Herald, written by boat show director Cathy Rick-Joule, disputed that the show is to take place on environmentally sensitive land, the Herald reiterated that the issue was the plan to stage “a massive trade show at the Miami Marine Stadium site on environmentally sensitive Virginia Key.”

“Environmentalists and others are right to be concerned, though boat show operators say there’s no reason to worry. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has signed off on the scope and scale of the boat show. But, years ago, the Corps also gave the thumbs-up to the deep dredge at the port, saying damage to the environment would be minimal, even with the explosives used. The damage was far greater than advertised. The Corps credibility was also a casualty.”

The editorial followed another last week that chided the city for giving the boat show “a pass” and solidifying agreements without voter support. It did not mention a poll conducted that showed all districts largely supported the boat show’s move to Virginia Key.

Yachts Miami Beach — formerly known as the Yacht & Brokerage Show in Miami Beach — has completely separate ownership and is not affected by the dispute between the NMMA and Key Biscayne. Although many attendees assumed the two shows were one and the same, they have always been separately owned and operated.

Yachts Miami Beach will be held along Collins Avenue, as always, and at the Island Gardens Deep Harbour superyacht marina on Watson Island. It will be the only boat show that takes place in Miami Beach.

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