Master plan for Museum Park expected by year's end
By Suzy Valentine
Concepts for converting Miami's Bicentennial Park into Museum Park should be ready by year's end - a process to which the city is pledging up to $1.4 million.
Civic leaders descended upon the downtown park Tuesday to launch the master-planning phase Cooper Robertson and Partners aims to complete by Dec. 31.
"We've mapped out that this process is going to take eight to nine months," said designer Alex Cooper. "By the end of this year, we're going to have a fully flushed-out concept and a very developed, detailed design within an eight-month period, so that's very fast. We're already behind."
The Miami Art Museum, the Miami Museum of Science and Planetarium and the Historical Museum of Southern Florida plan to move to the 30-plus acre park with a 2,600-foot bay walk and some Florida East Coast Industries land.
Commissioners hired Cooper Robertson in February. The resolution assigned $1.3 million in capital-improvement funds and $100,000 in other funds.
Mr. Cooper wouldn't say how much the process will cost. "We don't know yet," he said, "we've just started."
Drawings won't be ready before year-end 2006, said City Commissioner Johnny Winton. He said funds for the park aren't in place. "We don't have the money yet," he said. "We have $10 million set aside, and we estimated when I did the original master plan that it would cost $22 million to $23 million to do a park here."
Mr. Winton said Tuesday that even after lengthy discussions, the park may not feature its major component, museums.
"As soon as we get money or segments of money, we can start doing the park whether or not the museums come," Mr. Winton said. "The museums are an integral part of the planning process. ... They may never get here, but the park should get here."
Representatives of the Miami-Dade County Commission and the City of Miami as well as the three cultural facilities that are to move into Bicentennial Park added their symbolic signatures Tuesday to a plan to transform the 30-plus acres into Museum Park.
The Miami Art Museum, the Miami Museum of Science and Planetarium and the Historical Museum of Southern Florida plan to move to the vacant parkland with 2,600 feet of baywalk and some Florida East Coast Industries land.
Plans to refit a warship as the Miami-Dade Historical Maritime Museum is to tie in with park plans. The waterborne collection - the brainchild of Frans Boetes - is, unlike the other projects, privately funded.
City Commissioner Johnny Winton said Tuesday that funds for the envisioned Museum Park aren't yet in place.
A 2001 charette on uses for the park pinpointed three possibilities - an arrangement by which sale of part of the park would finance an upgrade of the remaining land; restoration to status as a passive park, a use which historically has been unsuccessful; and Museum Park. City officials have endorsed the latter concept.
Despite delays and lack of financing, museum officials say they are dedicated to the project.
"We can really start the active master planning," said science museum president Gillian Thomas, "as opposed to just knowing we'll have 4 acres somewhere on the site. We can begin to limit all the issues to make sure that this works practically but is also beautiful. We also need to know how we'll get the schools on and off the site."
City approval of the project, said Mr. Winton, is to follow the conceptual stage.
"It's only at the global master-planning level," he said. "This is a very public process. We're just at the stage where we decide there's a soccer field here, there's a clump of trees here and there's this, this there. Then you go and get adoption from the City Commission after this phase is over."
The three museums are on the second list of projects to receive funds from the $2.9 million General Obligation Bond issue approved by voters in November, a county subcommittee last week announced. The science museum must match the $150 million it is promised, the art museum $100 million and the history museum $25 million. When the museums will get the funds hasn't been announced.