12 years after discovery, Miami Circle due December opening
By Jacquelyn Weiner
Some 12 years after the discovery of the Miami Circle, a park at the ancient Tequesta site is on track for a December peek.
The in-progress $1.1 million passive park marks the first opportunity in years for the public to set foot on the 2,000-year-old relic at the mouth of the Miami River, which was named a National Historic Landmark by the federal government in January 2009.
Excavations at the Miami Circle — where a circular prehistoric structure once stood — have yielded insight into the Tequesta Native American group and its architecture.
Jorge Zamanillo, vice president of expansion projects for HistoryMiami, said the aim is to hold an opening celebration in December if construction remains on track. Work on the park began in June.
The museum also plans to begin screening a 30-minute piece on the history of the Miami Circle in conjunction with the opening and to launch a Miami Circle audio tour.
The tour, Mr. Zamanillo said, is to be available for computer download as a podcast or dialed by phone.
Funding for the park comes from several entities.
Part comes from the remainder of $2.2 million in state funds allocated to fix a once-collapsing seawall between the Circle and the Miami River. The project ended up costing $1.4 million after the economy tanked and costs fell, leaving the balance for the park project.
On top of that, the Florida Inland Navigation District — which finances shoreline improvements — shelled out $125,000, the South Florida Water Management District contributed $50,000 and the Miami Downtown Development Authority gave $25,000.
An additional $50,000 grant from the City of Miami is up for vote at today's (10/28) city commission meeting.
Once complete, the Miami Circle park is to feature landscaping along the river and the back of the site, a neighboring bus loop and limestone boulders marking the Circle's perimeter, said T. Spencer Crowley III, Miami-Dade County commissioner for the Florida Inland Navigation District.
In addition, he said, the project extends the Riverwalk from the Brickell Avenue Bridge to Icon Brickell, 475 Brickell Ave.
"It's a pretty simple park," Mr. Crowley said. "Pretty simple, but important."
For those looking to learn more while visiting the park, the history museum has designed
four 3- by 7-foot panels for the park covering topics like the history of the site and the Miami Circle's discovery, Mr. Zamanillo said.
The completion of the passive park will mark phase one in plans for the Miami Circle. Other unfunded ideas include building a replica of the Circle above the actual site and installing a viewing window to peer at it.
The ancient artifact is fragile, making it a difficult task to allow full public access.
Right now it's buried again under layers of protective limestone.
Ryan Wheeler, chief of the state's bureau of archeological research, has said planners continue to look at ways to allow the public to view the Circle, but that it would require building over the site, which is not funded.