The Real Deal Miami

Boat show gets green light from Army Corps of Engineers

Conditions include having designated workers act as lookout for sea cows during construction

January 06, 2016 01:30PM
By Francisco Alvarado

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Miami Marine Stadium (credit: Rick Bravo)

Miami Marine Stadium (credit: Rick Bravo)

The Miami International Boat Show has cleared its final permitting hurdle, after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last week gave the event’s organizers the green light to build temporary docks and boat slips at Miami Marine Stadium Park and Basin.

The boat show, scheduled for Feb. 11-15, is relocating from its longtime home at the Miami Beach Convention Center to Virginia Key this year.

Installation of hundreds of floating docks and more than 1,000 pilings in the basin had already begun, officials for boat show operator National Marine Manufacturers Association, or NMMA, told The Real Deal.

“We look forward to welcoming boating enthusiasts from across the globe to Miami in February,” said Cathy Rick-Joule, the boat show’s director, in a statement. “As we have for decades, we will operate the show with respect for the environment and in compliance with all local, state and federal requirements.”

On Dec. 28, the corps issued a five-year permit to NMMA allowing construction of the dock system and other temporary structures in the water. Construction contractors have 38 days to erect them. The association had also secured environmental permits from Miami-Dade County and the state in early December.

The permits include conditions requiring NMMA to enact measures that protect manatees, sea grasses, sea turtles and coral in the basin, including having designated workers act as a lookout for sea cows when in-water construction work is being performed, and conducting surveys of the seagrass before and after the boat show.

The NMMSA obtained the permits despite vociferous opposition from environmentalists and Key Biscayne village officials, who over the past year have waged a campaign to stop the boat show’s relocation to Miami Marine Stadium. Key Biscayne still has pending lawsuits against the city of Miami, which entered into an agreement with the NMMA to host the boat show, aimed at driving the event out of Virginia Key.

Key Biscayne Mayor Mayra Peña Lindsay said county, state and federal officials still have concerns about the boat show’s impact because they did not grant NMMA long-term permits.

“The Miami-Dade County Commission rejected the NMMA’s request for a 10-year permit and put in place over 60 conditions and restrictions that will keep the boat show on a very short leash, which is validation that this unnecessary and risky commercial venture requires intense scrutiny,” Lindsay said in a statement.  “The Army Corps of Engineers has now issued similar onerous restrictions of their own and the Village of Key Biscayne will remain vigilant as the region’s environmental watchdog, even as our legal challenges remain in play.”