The Real Deal Miami

Open-air dinosaur museum proposed for struggling Florida Keys state park

March 21, 2011 03:14PM

A German design firm wants to build an open-air prehistoric museum within the Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park in the Florida Keys. Among the attractions would be life-size dinosaur replicas and a 45-foot Megalodon shark, which the firm, Bernd Wolter Design, says would draw between 40,000 and 70,000 additional visitors to the 32-acre park in Islamorada. Over the past five years, Windley Key has averaged just 11,660 visitors and $6,252 in revenue per year while costing $100,306 to operate. It was targeted by the state for temporary closure as it planned budget cuts earlier this year. The design firm is hoping to piggyback on the success of its open-air dinosaur museum in Hanover, Germany — Europe’s largest — which attracts around 250,000 visitors annually. Founder Bernd Wolter, who owns a vacation home in Islamorada, is slated to meet with Albert Gregory, chief of Florida’s Office of Park Planning, tomorrow morning at Windley Key to discuss the project. Meanwhile, not everyone is on board to bring a dino-park to the Keys. “Private guys only care about profits, not preservation,” said Ken Thomas, an Islamorada resident. “Even though New York is having financial problems, it does not talk about selling Central Park. Where is the environment protection?” [Miami Herald]