Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Viglucci Article: Should we have a Private Conservancy For Bicentennial Park? I Say "NO". By Geniusofdespair

I love the walkway along the water. There are shade trees yet open space for a concert, craft show, yoga or to throw a frisbee. There is a bathroom  and a sewage pumping station, what else do you need? Oh there are also the two stupid museums in the north side of the park separated by a colonnade of trees.
Andres Viglucci, usually one of my favorite reporters at the Miami Herald, curiously didn't ask the opposition for comment on an article he wrote on a proposal for a private conservancy that would upgrade and run Miami's Museum Bicentennial Park. He did report on enthusiastic support from two very popular people in the City of Miami:
Supporters of the proposed Museum Park Conservancy, including Miami Commissioner Marc Sarnoff and former Mayor Manny Diaz, say they’re off with a bang. They’ve secured at least $7.5 million in pledges from private donors, an amount they say is just the start to a campaign that aims to raise tens of millions more to create an iconic downtown park.

Andres is usually very thorough in his reporting. Anyway, I decided to help him and I found some people with long histories in park preservation that were not all that enthusiastic to the idea of a Conservancy and the fancy plans by politicians to fill up every available space of Bicentennial Park.

South Side of Park Where Tall Ships Can Dock in the FEC Slip
The Park has nice clean bathrooms and people use them.

Leave well enough alone. Bicentennial Park is a nice park, quiet in a sea of squalor around it. People will find it and love it. Give it time, the dumb Science Museum isn't even finished yet. Everything doesn't have to be filled in to the brim. If not for Mayor Tomas Regalado, all that green and blue in the photo at top would be the Beckham Soccer Stadium. Regalado nixed Mayor Gimenez's idea to fill in the slip for the stadium.

The park is managed now by Bayfront Park Trust and they are doing a great job. It looks very inviting and it is kept clean. You are automatically drawn down to the water by a cavalcade of trees and a wide sidewalk of pavers. When you reach the Bay there are movable chairs and tables so you can eat lunch in the shade. It is quite a nice spot for relaxing, watching the cruise ships and viewing the water. Did I mention they had bathrooms? Rich people go away. You now have a 1/3 of the park for your galas. That is enough for less than 2% of the population.


The park looks great now. It's better to leave well enough alone. For the first time, I actually like a park in the City of Miami and thought the City had done a good thing for the public. The park is not cluttered with crap or commercialism. The open green spaces are so few in downtown Miami, to have this in the heart of the city is an unexpected delight. But of course, this being Miami, anything that is free and good and open is eyed by private for profit special interests for their own enterprise. Let's not let that happen. What a dumb idea to consider tearing up the park to build an underground parking garage - on the Bay - and all this for an upscale restaurant?

Opening Day of Bicentennial Park

Bicentennial Park was saved from the Marlin's Stadium by activists like all of us at the Daily Planet Newspaper.

We didn't do it so Concrete Manny and friends could come along and take over the park for ridiculous and expensive "features" like a grand entrance, pavilions and a parking garage and a restaurant(s) catering to the wealthy. We did it for the public to enjoy. In the end, the 2 museums took up one-third of the park but at least we got a nice green space and waterfront park for the public to enjoy. And now they want to take that way.

Of course, this area was also eyed by David Beckham for his retail lined (Bayside-like) soccer stadium. This valuable waterfront land will be eyed by other developers for their own private enterprises. We can't let that happen.

Let them raise money for more shade trees and garden areas, more park benches, for maintenance. And that's all. The public needs to speak up now to claim this park as their own. Did the public ask for a "grand entrance way?" Are they demanding an upscale restaurant? Is there a need for an underground parking garage? I don't think so.

The idea of a conservancy to manage the park is fine in theory - but in Miami, this will be abused. Even when there are deed restrictions and rules, like the Carollo amendment that requires a public referendum before allowing private uses of public waterfront land, we have seen time and time again how the City of Miami gets around these rules. Examples are Watson Island, where there will be hotels and private businesses on public waterfront land. Or Virginia Key, where the City allowed the Miami Marine Stadium, the City is proceeding to spend $20 million of taxpayer money to develop the land around it to create a private event space - the Miami Boat Show - on what should be waterfront parkland.
Opening Day of the Park

The excuse that Museum Park needs to be "programmed" to get people to use it is bogus. That's what they told us the Museums were for. Didn't work did it? To see an example of parks that are not programmed but are immensely popular for picnics, walking, biking, people watching, dog walking - go to Margaret Pace or David Kennedy Park. These parks also are severely overcrowded - it shows how much people want and needs parks, without fancy entrance portals or upscale restaurants.

If Manny Diaz and Marc Sarnoff want to propose stuff to do - why don't they don't propose volleyball nets or a small playground? A hot dog vendor would be fine.

If these so-called park advocates want to raise money - they should focus their sights on other urban and neglected parks - like Allappatah and Douglas Parks which have been closed to the public for years because of soil contamination. These parks need to be 'elegant,' too.

Miami is more than Biscayne Boulevard and Bayshore Drive - the residents in other neighborhoods pay taxes, too. Maybe not as much as the hedge fund millionaires buying the $5 million penthouse suites but, so what? Elected officials represent all the people of the City of Miami and serve in the public interest. Right?

Isn't the waterfront view enough? Do you really need to satisfy a politician's wet dreams?


Not sure it would be bad for the park. Central Park and Prospect Park have benefited from Conservancies. The key thing is that there be no disadvantage to the general public in terms of full access and use. Donors can have their galas and the public gets a better park. Of course in Miami I do worry.

...There you have it from all of us at the Daily Planet that Andres Viglucci forgot to interview.


Anonymous said...

It appears the museums want to control the park, and this conservancy idea takes the operation and maintenance away from the Bayfront Park Trust. It is just another Miami power play by wealthy connected players.

Anonymous said...

Lex Luthor has developed a concrete parking garage and elegant waterfront dining machine. Please, Superman, save Metropolis from this diabolical plan.

Anonymous said...

Why does the Miami Herald ignore the real people in our community and cater to the wealthy and privileged? So tired of the breathless reporting of this upscale restaurant and that luxury condo and the starchitects that serve them. That's the definition of local reporting. Other than shootings, that is.

Anonymous said...

Why does the Herald cater to the wealthy? They are the only ones that can afford a home subscription!!!

Brainiac said...

Ah, Lex, trying to foil my plan. Tomas Regalado already did by saving the slip. Priceless art on the waterfront of a drowning city (maybe not so priceless if Jorge Perez donated it) gives me hope. I must obtain some krytonite and weaken the people to get my conservancy. Metropolis is a rich mans city and the others must accept our domination.

Anonymous said...

The Herald subscriptions are cheap, actually. But even at free, are they worth it if the reporting is irrelevant to you? I hope they follow up this article with one about those closed parks that are contaminated. Miami's poor children need more parks and green space and access to natural areas so they can learn about nature. They can't afford upscale restaurants. They don't have waterfront views from penthouse apartments. They don't get taken on fancy ski vacations or European jaunts or grand tours of the national parks. What little we have, we need to preserve and protect and keep green, not concrete it over.

Batman said...

No underground parking garage for my bat mobile? Who needs it.

Anonymous said...

Put $500 million dollars into two park structures and are going to bleed money. Phase II. Hide the numbers.

Anonymous said...

Last picture: The only place in Miami you can see the ocean. Let's block it with a restaurant.

Anonymous said...

It's Despicable what the developer's Minions are trying to do to Miami's public parks. We need a hero.

Anonymous said...

Miami is the land of moneymaking promises. Those promises can be run up the flag pole (seem like a few months ago a massive flag pole idea was put forth for this property and it thankfully got shot down,) even thought they have no basis in broad public benefit.

The art museum, (which I've visited twice and was appalled at the poor collection so I had to be content with the building being the artwork,) is heavily dependent on property taxes. It was built on the promise that it would be heavily endowed. It's sad that successes aren't required in order to continue the march towards more development.

Anonymous said...

These stupid ideas keep coming back because there is no accountability and the politicians and schemers know that. And not even the local newspaper editorial boards have our back. That's not how it used to be. Maybe I've hung around Miami too long. But before the swells from every city on the globe showed up to embrace Miami, there used to be such a thing as community. As in, things that were done with public tax monies were done for the good of the community, for the enjoyment of the residents, for the betterment of our entire community's future. Now it's a free for all of tax money for private enterprises. And since land has become so valuable, especially waterfront land, it's a free for all of our last remaining open spaces - our public parks. It's all over.

Anonymous said...

The last comment mentions endowments. Are there any public numbers for the PAMM and Science Museum endowments that were promised in order to build the museums? If the museums are still trying to raise funds won't the conservancy idea take funds the museums need to make good on their promises?

Anonymous said...

Concrete Manny Diaz and Marc "I love billboards" Sarnoff are responsible for the two broke museums
squatting on the waterfront park. Neither museum has any endowment to speak of. Broke? They both count on annual bailouts
from the taxpayers ON TOP OF THE $1 Billion cost of construction, including debt service. Manny Diaz and Sarnoff should spend time
raising money from Jorge Perez for an endowment. Then hit up Philip Frost. Fix the museums first.

Anonymous said...

Where was Manny Diaz when Miami Art Museum was scamming the public out of priceless waterfront park land? Oh, he was the mayor.

Robin said...

Holy smokes Batman!

Two broke museums.

Massive annual operating losses?

Naming rights to Jorge Perez for $5 Million?

What a deal!

Anonymous said...

Now that disgraced ex-Mayor Manny Diaz works for the biggest billboard company in the United States, Outfront Media, any bets Concrete Manny wants to install a billboard (or five) in Bicentennial Park? Or is it Marc Sarnoff lobbying for that same billboard company? It was Manny and Marc who lobbied for LED billboards. Be wary.

Anonymous said...

Unbelievable. The park is empty most days and needs something other than views and palm trees...99% of you don't live there and please don't tell me you go to the park because it isn't true.

Anonymous said...

Miami leadership is a disgrace!!! Even with the tremendous tool of impact fees for parks they can't get their shit together on something as simple as landscaping a park. Worthless rascals. Parks need total protection in Miami. The Carollo Ordinance needs to be strengthened to preserve parks forever with no future votes on their use. PARKS FOREVER!!!! Steve Hagen

Steve Hagen said...

I suggest the name of Bicentennial/ Museum Park be changed to the
Twenty Minute Park because that is all the time it takes to walk and see the entire thing. Pitiful!

A major unction of prime location parks is to amuse the visitor, be it designed like Tivoli Gardens which is heavy on entertainment, Millennium in Chicago which is a hardscape on the edge of large green open park, a display garden which uses lots of trees, foliage and winding paths to immerse the visitor or a true botanical garden which not only immerses the visitor but also educates them. There are many mixes of the above in world class cities.

Miami has the Twenty Minute park which offers little for locals or tourists to return to on a regular basis. It is nothing more than an expensive "yawn" in front of two museums.

Come on Miami, if you want to be world class, landscape this park and make it a real draw for locals and tourists which will take at least 45 minutes for one to walk around.

A variety of affordable restaurants could have been located where the two museums are which could have been open 24/365 instead of museums closing at sunset. We are stuck with these empty monsters in the evening hours.

I say no to any large expensive restaurant as PAM offers that and it should be required to be open to at least midnight.

I say yes to some smaller food services reachable only by walking which should be open at least until midnight and surrounded with lush vegetation to blend in with the park. Give Lincoln Road some competition!! Who has a problem with great landscaping?

Stick a couple of small restaurants on Parcel B as well. Get people walking!

Steve Hagen, formerly of Miami