Miami Dade County Community Forum

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

City of Miami Waterfront Advisory Board Voted for the Virginia Key Revised Master Plan

Miami Waterfront Advisory Board recommends changes to revised Virginia Key Master Plan; moves it forward to the Miami City Commission for their consideration

Despite pleas from the public to delve into the details of the revised plan and delay voting on the approval, the Miami Waterfront Advisory Board unanimously approved on Oct. 5 forwarding the Virginia Key Master Plan with suggested amendments to the Miami City Commission.

The amendments (made by board member Jose Fuentes) include:
*Construction of a Virginia Key "Welcome Center,"
Restoration of the Marine Stadium,
No hotels,
Creation of an "implementation committee,"
Design a comprehensive island transportation plan,
Restoration of the the mountain bike and BMX courses in the North Point area
One or two boat ramps ( either in the North Point or Marine Stadium Basin),
Cleaning up the landfill first (explore leaching of contaminants into the bay),
Increase native tree buffer areas for playing field site on landfill, and continue restoration of Virginia Key Beach areas..

The Virginia Key Master Plan is scheduled to be heard by the Miami City Commission, Thurs., Oct. 8, Miami City Hall, 3500 Pan American Drive, Miami. There is no time certain set at the moment.

Enrique Nunez, of the City of Miami’s planning staff presented the “revised” Virginia Key Master Plan, which he said was scaled back in response to community input. The previous (May 2009) version was unanimously rejected by two city advisory boards and dozens of civic, environmental and preservation groups.

The October 2009 version removes some buildings and parking garages throughout the island and opens land in front of the historic Miami Marine Stadium but retains a large dry dock storage facility and two large parking garages in the Marine Stadium basin as well as a retail shopping center now dubbed the “Marine Stadium Village.”

Nunez told the board the Marine Stadium Village will “provide access to the waterfront area.” No specific uses were identified for this “Village” though the the square footage had been reduced to 32,000 square feet, “about the size of a Publix” but interspersed among various buildings. The attached parking garage would be five stories tall.

The plan does not provide for a public boat ramp, though it presents two possible locations: next to the environmentally sensitive North Point area and in the Marine Stadium basin, where the boat ramp (now closed) has always been. The planners said reopening the existing boat ramp in the basin would interfere with the operations of the large private dry dock storage facility planned for the area.

See the "Revised" city of Miami Virginia Key Master Plan posted.

A significant number of speakers called for more details on the size, mass and use of the buildings and requested a delay in approval of the revised plan in order to build greater public consensus about the island’s future and further refine the plan with public input. They also asked for a commitment to the restoration of the historic Miami Marine Stadium and clean up of the contaminated landfill site.

Fran Bohnsack, president of the Urban Environment League, said a very successful public charette held Sept. 26 had drawn more than 100 participants who developed ideas that had not yet been incorporated by the city’s planners into the Virginia Key Master Plan. She also said the city’s Planning Advisory Board had not had the opportunity to review the revised plan.

Grace Solares, president Miami Neighborhoods United, a coalition of City of neighborhood civic associations, called for “pause and then a rewind.” She pointed out that the City of Miami budget had effectively defunded the historic Virginia Key Beach Park and if there is a dissolution of the governing trust “there will be no one to provide oversight.”

Judy Sandoval, community activist, warned: “Be very careful about voting for a plan ‘in principle’ and without details.”

Wendy Kamilar, chair of the board, called for a vote up or down on the plan.

“You can’t get funding without some sort of plan. We have to have a conceptual plan going forward,” she said.

With that, the Board voted unanimously to recommend that the plan go forward to the Miami City Commission Oct. 8 with recommended amendments.

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