Opinion & Letters to Editor

Budget Season in the City of Miami!

Commissioner Ken Russell

On Thursday 9/13, the Miami Commission will hold its first public hearing on the proposed operating and capital budget for fiscal year 2018–2019. The budget reflects the strategic plan for the city of Miami with a focus on five key areas: mobility, service, housing, safety, and spaces.

I highly encourage residents to review the budget (http://www.miamigov.com/Budget/ ) and I warmly welcome your input on the city’s funding priorities. Please reach out to my office with your comments or come speak to the commission next Thursday.

One of the items the city commission will consider is the proposed budget of the Bayfront Park Management Trust (BPMT). The trust is the entity that manages the operations and capital improvement of two of Miami’s prized public spaces: Bayfront Park and its neighbor Museum Park.

I have heard from many downtown residents who are fed-up with the status quo of the operations and management of Bayfront Park. Noise, lack of public access, and unmet capital needs are the main complaints. Events held in Bayfront produce noise that is too loud while the number of events mean that the park is closed to the public for far too many days.

Possible Solutions

One possible solution is to mandate that the BPMT limit the number and type of events held in the park each calendar year. A second, and not necessarily separate, the solution is for the city of Miami Parks and Recreations department to take back the maintenance and operations of Museum Park. By reducing the geographical scope of park land the BPMT is responsible for, the trust would likely need to book fewer large scale events. Narrowing the reach of the responsibility of the BPMT could allow for a more targeted financial focus on Bayfront Park, hopefully to the benefit of the resident.

A third option is to dissolve the BPMT completely. As your commissioner, I am concerned that under the current management structure the decisions affecting the park are made by people who ultimately have no accountability to the downtown residents. For this reason, earlier this year I proposed that the city commission dissolve the BPMT. At the time, I did not have the votes or the community support to enact this change. Yet, I remain open to this option.

It is clear to me that we have reached an impasse. We need to define the purpose and nature of Bayfront Park. Should Bayfront be a city park stewarded by the city parks department and the city commission? Or should we simply get comfortable with the reality that Bayfront is operating as an events venue managed by a board that may have different and competing interests from those of the downtown residents? As a downtown resident, what do you think? As always, I welcome your feedback.

Ken Russell is the City of Miami Commissioner for District 2, which includes Downtown. Mr. Russell is Chairman of the Downtown Development Authority.

Letters to the Editor

Unruly Midnight Boats

Brian Andrews

Some would say the vibe in Downtown Miami is largely positive. We have new buildings, new restaurants, and lots of new neighbors arriving from all over the world! However, there’s another vibe in Downtown Miami that few people living along the north and south sides of the Miami River are happy about.

It’s the late-night vibe of passing pleasure boaters blaring their sound systems into the night. On any given Friday night, Saturday night, or Sunday night after midnight, you can hear all your favorite Reggaeton and profanity-laced pop hits as if you were sitting in a stadium at a high decibel concert. The noise is amplified off the water and off the sides of the condo towers.

It lasts for about 3 minutes and then fades into the night. The noise is jarring enough to wake you up, rattle your windows, and make you upset. These boaters have created a new host of concerns our City and its law enforcement agencies must address.

Miami River. Photo courtesy of Brian Andrews.

Call for Help

A call to the non-emergency number of the Miami PD has offered little help as the offending boater has usually passed the mouth of the river by the time you can tell an operator on the line to make a complaint. A call to FWC usually results in your call being routed to an after-hours number in Tallahassee that can’t scramble resources fast enough to deal with the situation.

Your DNA Board has asked the Miami Police to help us find a solution. A reasonable person would expect a responsible boat operator to be courteous as they transit waterways in residential areas. The mouth of the Miami River looks very residential to me, lined with tall towers and hundreds of condo units. The Police tell us they’re now willing to work with FWC to start late night details to stop and cite boaters who are disturbing the peace.

We’ve suggested a regular crackdown. Since these charter captains and boat operators will only listen to reason when money is involved, we think the captain of the vessel needs to be cited with a fine if they are caught playing loud music after 11 pm. Another option would be to put social pressure on the issue. Downtowners who spot offending vessel could also shoot video with their phones and tweet clips of the offending vessels to @MiamiPD and @MyFWC.

This is an issue we as Downtowners really need to “make some noise” about and help our local law enforcement agencies hold vessel operators accountable.

Brian Andrews is the President of The News Directors, Inc., a firm specializing in strategic & crisis communications for local governments. Mr. Andrews is a former investigative reporter/anchor with CBS, WSVN, and Noticias RCN in Colombia.

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