The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), owners of the Miami International Boat Show, may be a multi-million dollar corporation, but they should stick to manufacturing boats, not manufacturing facts.
The NMMA has hired multiple marketing firms to whitewash the damage they will do to Virginia Key’s environment, and Miami’s quality of life, while shielding themselves and the multi-billion dollar boating industry from public scrutiny. That’s a far cry from Key Biscayne’s goal in hiring our communications firm, Schwartz Media Strategies, to raise awareness for its municipal brand as a regional and global destination. Part of our public relations campaign includes safeguarding the environment and preserving the island’s appeal among the 7 million-plus people who visit each year from across Miami-Dade County and beyond.
According to legal complaints and documents filed with the City of Miami, both the Boat Show and the City have been cooperating to evade the public process by
- avoiding a public referendum by creating a license agreement instead of a lease;
- keeping the project’s details behind closed doors by disregarding Sunshine Laws; and
- dismissing the public’s wish to use the Marine Stadium site as a public park with a renovated, operational stadium/amphitheatre, which was outlined in the City’s own Virginia Key Master Plan.
Corrections to the NMMA’s ‘facts.’ This is not the first time their public statements have had to be corrected. In fact, the Key Biscayne Citizen Scientist Project has already done so in an attempt to bring truth and transparency to their claims.
Traffic Nightmare: The Boat Show and the City of Miami have yet to submit a traffic plan, despite repeated public requests from the Village of Key Biscayne.
- Key Biscayne is home to more than 10,000 residents and upwards of 7 million visitors per year. With only one road in and one road out, even the best designed ‘traffic flow’ plan will be ill-equipped to address the disruption caused by the Boat Show — and it is irresponsible to attempt to bring so many people into an area that simply cannot contain it, without adequate parking no less.
- The event will also take place the very same weekend of the Coconut Grove Arts Festival – which would create a massive bottleneck on South Miami Avenue and disrupt quality of life for all surrounding neighborhoods.
- The City of Miami approved last week a 10-year contract between the Boat Show and EventStar to erect tents on-site – proving that this ‘temporary’ site location is far more permanent than they or the City would like the public to believe. Adding to this traffic nightmare is an attempt to commercialize public land for up to a decade, siphoning off access to the waterfront and blocking any public recreational use.
Environmental Impacts: While the permitting process itself may be routine, the detailed findings put forward by the US Army Corps of Engineers are anything but routine.
- According to the federal government’s public report, the Boat Show would cause “substantial” harm to the ecosystem and determined “the applicant [NMMA] has not provided adequate compensatory mitigation for piling locations or shading impacts,” which could have serious effects on marine life.
- It isn’t only the federal government that has concerns. In fact, a slew of environmental groups have gone on record to sound the alarm bells on what could be an environmental catastrophe – including the Sierra Club, Audubon Society and Miami Waterkeeper.
- The Boat Show claims it will not use unencapsulated polystyrene, also known as Styrofoam, but that is exactly what their detailed plan calls for, as submitted to the federal government. According to the Miami Beach Sustainability Committee, the Yacht & Brokerage Show used this material in Miami Beach and it caused severe damage that still pollutes the waters to this day.
Taxpayer Boondoggle: The $18 million taxpayer-funded plan to convert the historic Marine Stadium site into a commercial event space, hatched by the City and Boat Show executives, is on the fast track to becoming Miami’s latest boondoggle.
- It is a shame the Boat Show’s executives deem Marlins Park unfit, because City of Miami and Miami-Dade County taxpayers shelled out hundreds of millions of dollars in public funding to build it under the premise that it would host events such as this and stimulate economic progress in Little Havana. Instead, taxpayers are funding a new venue yet losing access to the site for weeks at a time (which the Boat Show’s own release admits).
- If the Boat Show’s executives were taking a responsible approach and truly cared about our community, they wouldn’t be asking taxpayers to shell out another $18 million to build something entirely new on publicly-owned, environmentally-sensitive land.
- Additionally, as the Boat Show’s press release states, the Boat Show now alleges it will only have 400-500 boats on the water, yet its own permit application to the City of Miami specifically calls for over 800 boats – a document obtained only after repeated records requests.
Alternative site locations: Miami’s natural habitat — not the Miami International Boat Show — is our community’s greatest asset. While the Village of Key Biscayne would like to see a successful 2016 event, it cannot and should not be at the expense of our environment.
- Thankfully, the environment and the Boat Show event are not mutually exclusive. The Boat show claims that Marine Stadium Park and Basin is the best and only site for the event, but that is not the case. Marlins Park is one option, as per our memo submitted to City and County Commissioners (attached), but many others exist.
The Boat Show alleges it will bring millions of dollars in economic impact. Yet instead of bringing it to an area that could most benefit from this, like Marlins Park in Little Havana, the Boat Show wishes to spend millions in taxpayer dollars to create more traffic, congestion and environmental damage to one of our most beloved resources.