Key Biscayne to sue over plans for new Miami show site

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The National Marine Manufacturers Association was thrown yet another curveball as Key Biscayne made moves to sue the city of Miami over plans to hold the Miami International Boat Show at the Miami Marine Stadium in 2016.

“We continue to work with the city of Miami on the planning for the 2016 Miami International Boat Show and will continue to work with the businesses on Virginia Key and the officials of Key Biscayne to ease their concerns,” NMMA spokeswoman Ellen Hopkins told Trade Only Today, without specifically addressing concerns the village raised at a board meeting.

The NMMA owns and produces the show, which has traditionally taken place at the Miami Beach Convention Center, but that venue is slated for renovation in 2016 and 2017.

The Key Biscayne Village Council voted late Tuesday to file a lawsuit against the city of Miami over a project in the works to rehabilitate the historic Miami Marine Stadium and redevelop the surrounding area, according to the Miami Herald.

Village officials worry that a planned $16 million outdoor event space on the stadium grounds will be used to host dozens of Rickenbacker Causeway-clogging events, such as the Miami boat show, which is moving to the site in 2016.

The village will file suit next week and then immediately stay the proceedings and enter into mediation, village attorney Stephen Helfman told the newspaper.

Village officials say they’ve tried to explain their position during informal face-to-face meetings, but have been ignored.

“You didn’t even listen to us,” councilman Luis Felipe de la Cruz told deputy Miami city manager Alice Bravo, according to the newspaper. “You told us that phrase that I love, that we would be ‘at the table.’ At the table for what? To be spoon-fed whatever you wanted to tell us?”

The unusual vote in Key Biscayne is the latest sign of dissent, or even distrust, between Miami and its neighbors. On Jan. 14 Miami Beach officials agreed to spend as much as $200,000 to study the traffic effects of a planned megayacht marina, hotel and retail project on Miami’s Watson Island even though Miami’s deputy planning director told them that a traffic study commissioned by the developer showed that the project would have a negligible impact on the MacArthur Causeway.

The city of Miami says Key Biscayne residents have nothing to fear when it comes to the Marine Stadium property. Bravo, Miami’s chief of infrastructure, told village officials Tuesday that their concerns were unfounded.

“I know there are folks concerned about the level of investment the city is putting in here, and it’s because we plan to run this as an event venue, and that’s not the case,” Bravo said.

In November the city rejected a plan presented by the not-for-profit Friends of Miami Marine Stadium to conduct a $30 million rehabilitation of the historic waterfront stadium — shuttered since Hurricane Andrew in 1992 — and invest another $90 million into the surrounding area to build the flex park, as well as dry boat storage and a marine exhibition center, another concern for village officials.

Miami commissioners agreed that they were better off pursuing a redevelopment plan themselves. So far, the only commitment they have made is to spend the millions to line the area east of the stadium with utilities and pave it in order to host the boat show.

On Tuesday afternoon, several Miami commissioners met with the city administration to discuss the city’s plans for redeveloping Miami Marine Stadium. They couldn’t agree about how to operate the stadium site, fund improvements or solicit partners, the newspaper reported.

“We cannot commit to Key Biscayne that there’s only going to be one boat show a year and the rest is going to be a passive park for the Key Biscayners to play,” Mayor Tomás Regalado said.

The city has until April 16 to come up with the money for a stadium rehabilitation and a plan for the project or risk losing a $3 million county grant.

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