Miami Dade County Community Forum

Monday, March 29, 2010

Virginia Key Planning meeting Saturday a Success

About 75 people gathered at the Rusty Pelican Saturday morning to see University of Miami Architecture students' presentations for Virginia Key. Dr. Gregory Bush first set the stage with a powerpoint presentation. There was a lively question and answer period that followed the student presentations. After the initial meeting the group moved on to the Virginia Key Trust to do some drawing of their own. Plans for Virginia Key are now getting public participation and fresh ideas. Anthony Garcia, Architect in attendance said:

"I was impressed with the solutions the students presented for the basin area. They correctly identified access to the waterfront as a major programmatic theme - a challenge that has never been adequately addressed, until now. "

Whether or not you attended this weekend's Virginia Key Design Workshop please feel free to write your feedback on the follow questions provided below. We would love your public input! You can send the answers to or leave them here as comments.

1. Are you satisfied with the 4 general vision for the North Point areas of the VK plan as presented?

2. Do you have any suggestions about further integration of the island's assets-including the role of the Historic Virginia Key Park Trust or such elements as signage, transportation?

3. Are you in favor of a National Park Service presence on Virginia Key for Biscayne National Park?

4. Do you believe a multi-jurisdictional authority over VK should exist with clear principles to preserve the public interest on the island?

5. There has been a proposal for Miami Atlantic Marine Park- with a 50,000 to 150,000 square foot building located next to the Marine Stadium. Included elements might include: green marine demonstration, boat museum, marine exhibition, cultural emporium of the Atlantic world (including eatery and crafts from the Atlantic world), and a welcome center for the island. Your comments on this notion? Other related concepts to add the would adhere to the deed restrictions? How big/small should it be?


  1. Can you show the "four general visions for the North Point? I don't remember seeing those at the Saturday event and don't know what they are.
    Also, how did this Miami Atlantic Marine Park get in the Virginia Key Master Plan proposals? Is there a developer proposing this?

  2. More information on the National Park visitor center on Virginia Key is posted at

  3. The students from the University of Miami School of Architecture mentioned that two people had made suggestion for the marine park/bldg. It is supposed to be a mix of a visitor's center and a cultural center.
    Right now we are working on getting photos from the proposed plans.

  4. I have attended about six or seven public meetings on Virgina Key and just this weekend, did I fully realized how special this place is.

    For three years the excercise has been to slice and dice this land mass for the benefit of various groups and the City of Miami which has the most interest in balancig budgets by charging fees.

    Just this weekend, did I come to understand the
    very unique stories this land tells. We need to listen. I am told that Manny Diaz did not know about north point or Jimbos. Vigina Key is unknown to many and that is sad.

    It has a very unique human history and it is a delicate living place which should be restored to its natural state as it is the last place of its kind, right in our front yard. We need to conserve this place for local residents and the world to enjoy. Just like nudists find Haulover Beach and spend tons of money in their visits, people who care about nature and history will find Virginia Key and we will all be much richer because we conserve it.

    As far as facilities, they should be limited to
    perhaps one intrepretation center with onsite signs for further intrepretation. Perhaps an electric tram or golf carts can assist people to get to two or three points with walking and biking paths beyond the points.

    As far as the area along the causeway, I would like to see boat storage facilities limited to enough to serve Miami resident boaters only, perhaps 250-300 dry slips, not 500 plus and 50 trailers.

    I very much like the idea of having the boats enter the water at the east end of the pier area, not in the basin. This allows
    pedestrians full access along the basin.

    I don't think cutting an additional slip in the key is practical or would be permitted by DERM, so why hot leave the dry slips where they are but move the road to the Rusty Pelican further east, so that it lines up with the island in the cut out.

    As I said above, I favor one visitor / interpretaion center but am dubious about a Marine Park. Is that like an Industrial Park or a Medical Park? If it is to be an educational exhibit experience then we need to look at what is already being done in the many instutions on Virginia Key. If it is to be a commercail water park, then I say no, as one of those is to be built in Metro Zoo, which will probaly be a flop because of its location.

    We really need to think about the Marine Stadium as being a site for entertainment as a person told me Saturday that it was shut down because of mosquitoes. Any truth to that? Summer evenings could very well be a problem. Can it survive on 5-6 months of use/income?

    The designs the U of Miami students came up with were superior to the paid designer, except the quantity of boat storage is far more then I think is necessary. Any boar storage be by lottery and it should be limited to one or two years. perhaps with higher rates for the longer period.

    Yes, we need clear principals for Virginia Key and all Miami Parks, in place of leaving their lives open to the wim of elected officials.

    I am not certain of involving multiple jurisdictions, but I favor the National Park Service studying the idea of becoming a guardian of this unique land and water.

  5. One of the UM students said that the 150,000 square foot "marine center" was the suggestion of a developer who came to their design workshop and that's how it got in the plan. A welcome center is a very different thing.

  6. Why is a private developer influencing what the students designed? This was billed as a public process. Or are the students being taught the public process "Miami-style"?

  7. The UEL suggested "principles" are now posted on

  8. I am not in favor of a visitor center that is anywhere near the size mentioned. A 4,000sqft welcoming house would more than do the job of information center. Something like the Barnacle in the Grove I think would be ideal; no bigger, similar style.

    I also do not like the idea of expanding the Biscayne National Park territory to accommodate Virginia Key and its surrounding waters. I'm worried the gap between the current Biscayne National Park boundaries and Virginia Key is too big to enclose in the park, and will encroach on established recreational boating areas at no benefit to Virginia Key.

    Instead I would look to try and place Virginia Key into its own Florida State Park, much like Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. Waters in and around Virginia Key could be under the park's jurisdiction, but no more.

    Overall, though, my main concern is look and feel. I think subtlety and a natural look is the way forward. Bill Baggs State Park should be the example to follow. The rec area / boat ramp at Flamingo in Everglades National Park is another example of how certain aspects could be developed.

    If in the end you can describe Virginia Key as shiny and new you've done it wrong.

  9. How would the National Park "encroach" on established recreational boating areas? The entire south bay is National Park waters, including to the area around Stiltsville just south of Key Biscayne. Thanks to the existence of the National Park - the area has been preserved for boaters to enjoy and fish. Without the National Park -the area was slated to become an oil refinery and industrial deep port. All the beautiful barrier islands people enjoy visiting - Elliot Key and onward would have been developed into another Miami Beach. The natural beauty and serenity we enjoy today would have been destroyed forever.
    Think about it - Virginia Key's only chance of preservation, including its wilderness areas, is to achieve that higher protection from development that National Park inclusion provides.

  10. @Anonymous - I'm not convinced we need national-level jurisdiction when it could be state-level. I also don't like the idea of living in a national park. I'm in Key Biscayne, and it worries me that all surrounding waters would be 'protected' by the federal government when you could easily protect Virginia Key and its waters with state park status.