Miami Circle secured for now — but seawall funding uncertain
By Risa Polansky
A temporary fix to the crumbling seawall adjacent to the famed Miami Circle in Brickell is just about complete, says State Archeologist Ryan Wheeler — but circle supporters will have to wait until at least next summer to see any further movement in securing the site.
Should the Legislature in March grant a $2.5 million request for funds to construct a permanent wall, the money could come in by July, Mr. Wheeler said, with construction to begin later in the year.
Florida's Division of Historical Resources funded the $150,000 in remedial shoring, he said.
Should the state deny the $2.5 million, Mr. Wheeler said he is "not sure" where plans would go from there.
Meanwhile, discussions continue between Florida's archeological bureau and the local Historical Museum of Southern Florida, set to take control of managing the 2,000-year-old site, which probably is a relic of the Tequesta people.
A lease agreement could be completed as early as a month from now, said Bob McCammon, president and CEO of the museum.
The public could gain limited access to the now blocked-off site beginning this fall, he said, possibly through tours for schools and other groups.
In the future, the museum may create a "passive park kind of environment" with posted educational information about the circle's history, he said, but now, "with the Icon building being under construction, it will be a while before total access is available."
Icon Brickell, Related Group's three-tower luxury residential project at 495 and 501 Brickell Ave., is set for completion winter 2008.
Another limiting factor at the site is the layer of protective limestone covering the circle, which is to remain "for years into the future until we figure out a way to protect it when it's exposed," Mr. McCammon said.
Once it becomes the circle's manager, the museum is to be responsible for area maintenance and any additions to the property, such as signage, he said.
The state will still be responsible for continuing with seawall repairs, Mr. Wheeler said, as well as for providing technical and archeological expertise regarding the property.
The museum's lease would run through 2052 and require only a "nominal" rent to the state, Mr. McCammon said, probably about $300 a year.
The historical museum became the main contender for site manager after the National Parks Service denied a request to make the circle part of nearby Biscayne National Park, because it's a cultural landmark, not a natural one.
Part of Cultural Center Plaza in downtown Miami, the museum now features an exhibit of circle artifacts uncovered in 1999, when excavations began.