||Bicentennial Park of Miami, July
1976, containing an extensive stand of Tifway 419 bermudagrass separated
by concrete walkways. It was built on the site of the old Port
of Miami. The Miami Yacht Basin is to the right.
(Photo by Phil Busey on tour with Paul Turcotte and Ev Burt.)
Bicentennial Park of Miami
When Florida Marlins owner John Henry tried to put a
baseball stadium in an essentially abandoned property next to Biscayne
Bay, it almost touched off the second American Revolution. Henry,
along with leaders from the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County had decided
to use tax revenues to support the former World Series champs, and to
use a public park in the process.
No, said the people.
I remember Bicentennial Park in 1976 when it
was a beautiful, restful place beside the Bay, before it became a home
for the homeless, before a number of violent incidents, before the Metromover
Station was built and later permanently closed, even before Metrorail
In July of 1976, Paul E. Turcotte, of the Parks
and Recreation Department, toured Bicentennial with UF turf weed scientist
Dr. Evert O. Burt and myself. There was a beautiful and manicured
stand of Tifway 419 bermudagrass separated by concrete paths.
That same day in July 1976 we also visited the
now very falling apart Orange Bowl, constructed with Federal support in
1935. The same Orange Bowl where President Kennedy had welcomed
the Bay of Pigs prisoners, and where in June 1980 there were housed many
of the 125,266 Marielito refugees who survived crossing the Florida Straits
in rickety rafts seeking freedom.
Milestones by the Herald's William Robertson
Chronology by the Cuban Information Archives
This is not the first time, and will not be the
last, that a community needs to come to understanding of, "What is a park?"
The Lipton on Key Biscayne is another example that has caused immense
controversy. Also, some years ago I remember when Broward County's
Hugh Taylor Birch State Park was almost lost to private heirs, due to
continued mismanagement and development that exceeded the intent of Mr.
Miami attorney Dan Paul, co-chair of the 1972
"Parks for People" bond issue that financed the creation of Bicentennial
Park, said "It would be a misuse of an extremely important and valuable
waterfront site, important for the future of Miami. There's no excuse
for putting a nonwater-oriented facility on that property."
say no to John Henry by Jim Mullin of the Miami New Times
Urban Environment League of Greater Miami stepped
in with the Committee of Hundreds to help redesign the park and make it
what it was intended, an urban park for multiple passive uses. (Web
site was down as of 12/25/01)
Redesign Bicentennial Park by the Urban Environment League of Greater
Dover, Kohl '&' Partners have now come in with
several grand designs ranging from an open space park to a cultural park,
including extensive turf areas.
Park details by Dover, Kohl & Partners
There are additional views of Bicentennial Park,
courtesy of the Marlins: