NMMA responds to Miami lawsuit in court documents

The National Marine Manufacturers Association is denying allegations that it violated Florida’s Sunshine Law.
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The National Marine Manufacturers Association is denying allegations that it violated Florida’s Sunshine Law when it entered into a licensing agreement with the city of Miami to hold the Miami International Boat Show at the Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin.

The NMMA also denied that records sought by the village of Key Biscayne in a lawsuit filed April 22 seeking to revoke the license — including all correspondence between the city and the association regarding the show and any future shows — were subject to requirements under the Sunshine Law.

That’s according to documents filed Monday in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court in Miami-Dade County, Florida, that Trade Only Today obtained Thursday.

The NMMA also sought an expedited trial, saying that “because NMMA is currently planning, promoting and financing the boat show, it is crucial that NMMA be permitted to obtain expedited proceedings, a speedy hearing and be advanced on the court’s calendar,” court documents said.

The original request by the village asked for correspondence that included “all documents, papers, letters, memorandum, memoranda of oral communications, e-mails, text messages, Blackberry Messenger messages, maps, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, data processing software or other material.”

Key Biscayne also filed a lawsuit against Miami in February, but entered into mediation talks shortly thereafter.

Key Biscayne Mayor Mayra Pena Lindsay has been openly critical of the show’s move to the Virginia Key stadium. However, the park and basin are in the city of Miami’s jurisdiction.

The political volleying continued this week in a memo Lindsay sent to Miami-Dade County commissioners on Thursday that Trade Only also obtained. In the memo, Lindsay said the city’s plan is “a direct violation of the Marine Stadium site’s permissible use.”

“Our lawsuit against the city of Miami, filed in the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida, has been temporarily stayed as both parties undergo conflict resolution proceedings,” the memo said.

“Although the village of Key Biscayne has made repeated attempts to negotiate in good faith, the potential for litigation against the city of Miami remains real,” Lindsay said in the memo. “Moreover, our concerns are heightened because city and National Marine Manufacturers Association officials have not been transparent in sharing information with the village or the public and have not been forthcoming during the dispute resolution process.”

The memo repeated that the NMMA and city negotiated the license agreement “behind closed doors,” which the NMMA disputed in court documents filed Monday.

It also pointed out two other possible venues for the boat show — Marlins Park in Little Havana and the former Bertram Yacht facility near Miami International Airport, which Lindsay said “merits consideration, as it offers land-based space and water access.” That facility made news earlier this year when owners renewed an agreement to bring water and sewer service to the site for more than 1,000 hotel rooms.

She also said Sun Life Stadium should be evaluated.

NMMA boat show vice president Cathy Rick-Joule responded to the memo, saying it contained no new information.

“It outlines the very same issues she has been pushing in the press over the last couple of months and that we will continue to address with facts,” Rick-Joule told Trade Only in an email.

“NMMA considered numerous locations, including the two that Key Biscayne mentions, in search of a site that meets the show's logistical needs while also enabling us to provide the caliber of event that our exhibitors, partners and the public have come to expect,” she said.

“The Marine Stadium Park and Basin was best suited to serve those goals while also reactivating a site that has lay barren for more than two decades,” Rick-Joule said. “We look forward to bringing the site back to the community, along with the $600 million in economic impact, 55,000 jobs and the $32 million in tax revenue the Miami International Boat Show supports each year.”

She also responded to the memo’s reiteration of a flag sent up by the Army Corps of Engineers regarding the NMMA’s permit, saying it was a “routine part of the permitting process for any projects in our waterways.”

“We have worked with the Army Corps of Engineers and other environmentally sensitive agencies for more than 30 years to ensure we comply with any requirement surrounding the boat show. Our efforts at Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin are no different,” she said.

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