** 3/30/09 UPDATE: The New World Symphony happily reports that the park will still be built, regardless of the parking issue. Transit Miami apologizes for misinterpreting the Miami Herald article, which clearly confused the issue by reporting contradictory statements in their own article. TM is planning to meet with the NWS to review the plans further and will share our findings after a review. **
Many Beach dwellers, myself not included, have long awaited the arrival of celebrity ‘star’chitect Frank Gehry’s addition to the New World Symphony, a public-private venture being hailed as a new ‘city center’ for Miami Beach. Clearly intended to raise the NWS’s profile and add to the civic core of Miami Beach, Gehry’s plans also contain a 520 space parking garage and a new 2-acre park.
While I personally question Gehry’s ability to create a dynamic public space, the park is certainly a needed amenity in this portion of Miami Beach. However, according to an article in the Herald yesterday, the rising cost of buliding the garage inspired Miami Beach City Commission to vote 5-2 in favor of changing the development agreement.
The new agreement uses the money devoted to the park to fund the cost over-run on the 520 car garage. What is more, the designated park space will likely become an additional 175 parking spaces because the City Commission says the NWS is not meeting its parking requirement, which allows the City to pull $6 million dollars worth of public funding out from underneath the Symphony.
In what sane world do we exchange a public good like needed park space for parking? As Commissioner Diaz rightly noted, this is indeed “a travesty.”
Before moving forward with what promises to be an over-designed parking garage, maybe city officials should research where Symphony attendees are traveling from. Do they all require parking spaces? Don’t people tend to enjoy the symphony in groups, which allows for a higher occupancy per vehicle? Won’t a good number of visitors come from the beach as residents or tourists? Why another 700+ spaces? Wouldn’t 520 be enough?
There are a slew of other problems implied in the story, mostly that 700+ parking spaces will only contribute to auto-dependence, congestion, and pollution on Miami Beach. Feel free to vent your frustration in the comments section.
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