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Everybody wants a piece of Virginia Key. Will Miami ever stop trying to cash in?

by Linda Robertson 10 Feb 17:41 UTC
Miami Marine Stadium basin, where the city is proposing to add a mooring field, which could interfere with rowers and others who use the basin and the natural wildlife area surrounding it. Here, members of the Miami Rowing Club practice in the basin © Carl Juste

Poor Virginia Key. Always up for grabs. Can the barrier island fend off the latest gambit to cash in on its beauty?

A formerly quashed proposal to open a mooring field for 49 yachts in the Miami Marine Stadium basin is back, riling rowers, dragon boaters, paddleboarders, kayakers, triathletes and nature lovers who say a parking lot in the blue lagoon is incompatible with its purpose as an oasis for recreational water sports, dolphins and birds.

The city of Miami also wants to expand a launching area now reserved for non-motorized vessels into a triple-wide motorboat ramp, accompanied by a 90-space parking lot for trailers.

In addition, a plan to build a boat ramp over a wild turtle-nesting beach at the North Point mountain-biking trailhead plus an adjacent 200-space parking lot is still lurking, alarming cyclists, wildlife conservationists and paddlers who frequent Jimbo’s Lagoon.

The city’s ideas for monetizing Virginia Key parkland are being raised against the backdrop of the Miami International Boat Show, a marine sales extravaganza that grows more massive each winter since it moved from Miami Beach in 2016. The Feb. 15-19 event — which boasts on its website that “The five biggest days in boating just got bigger!” — begins setup in December, driving pilings into the bay bottom, installing 900 wet slips and 270,000 square feet of floating docks across the water and erecting convention-center sized tents on land. It’s not removed until March, which means the boat show monopolizes that space for nearly four prime months per year.

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