Organizers of the Miami International Boat Show are responding to “misinformation and misinterpretations” regarding the show’s move from the Miami Beach Convention Center to Miami Marine Stadium in 2016 as federal regulators review a permit request to install 268,400 square feet of floating docks for the upcoming show.
A flag sent up by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who say mitigation measures will be needed to offset the negative environmental effects of temporary docking in the basin for 90 days, grabbed headlines again as the politics and press around the boat show’s move to the stadium park continue to roil.
In a letter sent privately to exhibitors, which was obtained by Soundings Trade Only, NMMA president Thom Dammrich said the association sought to “correct the misinformation and misinterpretations that are being broadcast as a result of the high-profile and political nature of our move to the Miami Marine Stadium Park.”
“Not surprisingly, an endeavor of this magnitude, on a coveted piece of land in the heart of Miami, is creating significant political and media interest,” Dammrich wrote.
Boat show organizers say the most recent Corps of Engineers request is a typical component of every permitting process for boat shows.
“The proposal would impact approximately 55.45 acres of submerged aquatic bay bottom utilized by various life stages of marine species,” according to the Corps statement obtained by Trade Only Today. “Our initial determination is that the proposed action would have a substantial adverse impact on [essential fish habitat] or federal managed fisheries in the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve.”
“This is no different than any other permitting process,” NMMA spokeswoman Ellen Hopkins told Trade Only Today. “We always comply when an issue arises. This is a standard regulatory process and no different than any other permit we apply for.”
“When something is noted as harmful or not in the best interest of all parties, we do what the regulators will guide us as to their requirements and we will do what we need to do to comply, like we always do,” she said.
“This is … a result of Key Biscayne’s political agenda and we’re stuck in the middle,” Hopkins added.
The permit and statement indicated that the mitigation would be necessary to offset the docks’ “shading impact” over the maximum time frame of 90 days. The 90-day period is part of a move-in and move-out extension that Miami City Council members recently approved for one year only.
The public notice issued by the Corps of Engineers was “based on information furnished by the applicant,” or the NMMA. “This information has not been verified or evaluated to ensure compliance with laws and regulation governing the regulatory program.”
“These are boaters and boat manufacturers who depend on the health of the marine environment,” Hopkins said. “Nobody wants to protect that resource more than they do. It’s their livelihoods.”
Dammrich also responded to a lawsuit filed by the Village of Key Biscayne against the NMMA, “alleging that we violated Florida’s open government public records law by withholding documents from the city of Key Biscayne and Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine Law in relation to a licensing agreement with the city of Miami.”
“You should know that NMMA is responding to the claims in the lawsuit, which we believe are completely unfounded,” Dammrich wrote.
Key Biscayne Mayor Mayra Pena Lindsay has told local publications that she has concerns about the traffic that not only the boat show would bring, but also potential other big events the city might seek to hold at the venue.
“The city’s plans to bring money-making events to the Marine Stadium site are logistically impossible, financially irresponsible and simply incompatible with the property’s allowable use, so our goal is to materially change the scope of the proposal,” she recently told GlobeSt.
“The boat show is signed on as a major tenant, but making the financials of the development work will require many more events each year, and that will lead to an onslaught of traffic,” she said.
Miami city officials have not said they intend to bring additional events to the venue.
Regarding traffic concerns, NMMA released details of traffic mitigation efforts that it is taking.
“NMMA, in conjunction with the city of Miami, has constructed comprehensive parking and transportation plans spanning water taxis, shuttles, public transportation access, VIP and valet parking, and abundant public parking options, all strategically placed throughout Miami and on Virginia Key, to accommodate boat show attendees and exhibitors,” the statement read.
“We don’t want there to be traffic concerns, either,” Hopkins said. “That’s why we are making such an effort with the water taxis, which can bring 25,000 people to the boat show each day, not to mention we’ll actually have more parking on Virginia Key where the show will be than we did in Miami Beach.”
“The transportation study we did was during the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, when traffic is crazy, and we had timed the stoplights to the point that every car got through, so nobody was sitting at the light twice,” Hopkins said.
Dammrich told exhibitors in the letter that the NMMA is “committed to not letting political agendas threaten the 55,000 boating industry jobs that the boat show supports, the $600 million economic impact the boat show delivers for South Florida or the $32 million in sales tax revenue generated by sales at the Miami International Boat Show.”
The NMMA is planning a 45-minute conference call with exhibitors later this month to detail plans for the 2016 show and answer questions.