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mayor goes hardball on museum park

Post #331 • July 27, 2004, 7:15 AM • 4 Comments

Charles Rabin for the Miami Herald: Ballot rift jeopardizes museum plan: Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Pinelas threatened to derail a bond proposal unless museum funding becomes a separate ballot question on Nov. 2.

Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas asked the county manager Friday to reconsider making a plan to use bond money for two museums in Bicentennial Park a separate referendum question on Nov. 2 -- or Penelas may veto part of the total $2.9 million bond proposal before Tuesday's commission meeting. The proposal to spend some of the bond revenue to build a new Miami Art Museum and Museum of Discovery in the downtown Miami park is now included in a larger $552.2 million plan to construct and improve cultural, library and educational facilities. ... Penelas wants the museum money to be in a separate question on the Nov. 2 ballot. The mayor said he also is concerned about a question that asks voters whether they want to spend $676.8 million improving park and recreational facilities. "As I weigh my options regarding vetoes of any or all of the [general obligation bond] resolutions, I remain concerned by the absence of ballot language outlining a plan for oversight of this program or giving voters the assurance that tax rates will not be increased if the program is adopted," he wrote.

Right there with you, Alex:

The mayor said he is concerned that "Museum Park" could turn into a fiasco like the Performing Arts Center being built in downtown Miami, which is almost two years late and now $240 million over its original budget. To avoid those problems, Penelas said he has spoken with some museum officials to receive assurances on private support, cost overruns and the preservation of green space at Bicentennial Park. Then he listed four requests:
  • A commitment by the museums to also raise private money.
  • A commitment toward the operation and maintenance of the facilities.
  • A promise never to seek seeking additional money for cost overruns.
  • Preservation of a substantial portion of Bicentennial Park as open land.

MAM's director's response:

Suzanne Delehanty, who directs the Miami Art Museum, said its total costs, including operating the museum, will be a little more than $200 million. "That's where we've been since day one," Delehanty said.

At last, the elusive price tag - the one that has never appeared on MAM's Museum Park page, the one that Celeste Fraser Delgado couldn't extract from anyone for the New Times - is revealed. She's been there since day one, apparently. I wish we all could have been there with her.

Pinelas asked the Museum officials to get back to him about his concerns by next Tuesday.

(I think it says something about the Herald that I hardly ever check it out unless I'm doing my roundup or if ArtsJournal links to it.)

Comment

1.

Jack

July 27, 2004, 9:55 PM

The absurdity of the PAC mess defies belief, even in Miami. Heads should be rolling all over the place, but of course that won't happen. I went by the site recently, and what little of it is more or less "finished' looks distinctly cheap (imagine what it'll look like after it's been up for a few years). The Museum Park project should be rigorously and very strictly monitored and controlled every step of the way, and it should be very clear from the word go that nothing even remotely resembling the PAC fiasco will be tolerated. Enough is enough.

2.

alesh

July 28, 2004, 2:37 AM

jesus christ! what the hell is "including operating costs"? Does she mean for the fisrt year? first ten? and if it includes that (i thought we were talking about building a building here), what else does it include?

can't we be a little more clear? Does it include the science museum, too?

$200 is a heck of a lot of money. we'd better be getting a lot for it. I support having it as a separate ballot question, because that means it will fail unless the museum busts its ass to convince people it should happen.

Maybe the museum is fine right where it is, and the staff will just have to struggle with their less-then-ideal loading dock.

3.

Franklin

July 28, 2004, 2:54 AM

Now that you mention it, Alesh, I think I assumed that $200M included the operational startup and one year of normal operations, but you're right - that dollar number would only make sense in a ratio over time. (I do know that it includes both the art and science museums.) So the figures we need to know are the one-time cost of building the structures, and the per-year cost of operations.

I could live with Museum Park as part of the overall GOB resolution as long as the protections that the mayor calls for are implemented. But every time something flaky comes up - like what you point out above - I feel unsympathetic along with you, and wonder if any of it is worth doing.

4.

Jack

July 28, 2004, 3:10 AM

Someone else may have come up with this idea before I did, but I'm pretty sure it's true: IF ABUSE IS POSSIBLE, ABUSE WILL HAPPEN. It's sad, but the evidence is overwhelming.

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