Potential issues with the proposed private conservancy to manage public Bicentennial/Museum Park:
First, while Park conservancies have worked in Chicago and New York, Miami is in a different situation. Miami has a terrible track record related to public space and the conservancy arrangement could easily be abused.
Second, one of the main goals of the conservancy is to fund adding features to the park such as a grand entrance, an upscale waterfront restaurant, and regular public events to draw tourists. But this brings us to the perennial question: who is the park for? Is it for tourists or is it for residents? Is it for the average Miami resident or is it for the rich people who would patronize the proposed fancy restaurant? Can’t we just have some nice open green space?
Another part of the reasoning behind the conservancy idea is to increase park attendance, which the Herald called “steady but light”. But the park was only reopened just over a year ago and the new science museum has yet to open. Why not give it a chance first?
Miami Herald 9/11/15
Under a proposed agreement that could go to the City Commission as early as the end of this month, the Museum Park Conservancy would be established under the aegis of the Miami Foundation, which developed the plan with strategic and grant support from the Miami-based Knight Foundation. The planned conservancy would be split into two independent arms — one to raise money for the park, and another to manage it — while the city would retain ownership of the park. The mayor, commission and administration would have seats on the operating board as well.
Since opening [in 2014], the park has seen steady but light use, mostly by residents of condo towers across the boulevard and visitors to PAMM. Park use is expected to rise once the Frost science museum, which is projecting high attendance numbers, opens next summer.
But conservancy supporters say Museum Park needs much more, including shade and attractive gardens as well as a full program of free events to draw visitors and keep them coming back, just as Chicago’s Millenium Park has done in becoming one of that city’s top tourist destinations.
Eye on Miami 9/15/15
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 Science Museum isn’t even finished yet. Everything doesn’t have to be filled in to the brim.
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.
Miami Herald 10/7/15
The overarching goal is to reignite an old $50 million design for Museum Park, which the city built from the ghost of Bicentennial Park and re-opened in June of 2014. The cash-strapped city, however, scrapped the more expensive plan during the recession in favor of a $10 million, bare-bones project.
But the possibility of ceding control of one of the city’s newest and most attractive parks to a private organization is raising concerns with some city officials, including Mayor Tomás Regalado, who will ask commissioners to hit pause Thursday to allow time for public gatherings and more discussion. Though Regalado’s administration has been at times accused of the same offense, he says he believes the Museum Park plan is a half-baked end-run around a city law requiring public referendums to lease waterfront public land.
The proposal also is facing resistance from City Commissioner Frank Carollo, who is chairman of the semi-autonomous Bayfront Park Management Trust, a public entity that currently manages and maintains Museum Park. Carollo notes that the conservancy would still seek some $25 million in public funds from the state, county and city, and that there’s no detailed spending plan to consider.