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  Bicentennial Park, Miami, July 1976
  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
1976-2001

Philip Busey

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 was built.

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.
Miami Milestones by the Herald's William Robertson
http://guide.miami.com/history/docs/100timeline.htm

Mariel Chronology by the Cuban Information Archives
http://cuban-exile.com/doc_026-050/doc0038.htm

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. Birch's will.

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."
Just say no to John Henry by Jim Mullin of the Miami New Times
http://www.miaminewtimes.com/issues/1999-09-30/mullin.html

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)
Help Redesign Bicentennial Park by the Urban Environment League of Greater Miami
h
ttp://www.uel.org/committee.htm

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.
Bicentennial Park details by Dover, Kohl & Partners
http://www.doverkohl.com/project_detail_pages/bicentennial_park.html

There are additional views of Bicentennial Park, courtesy of the Marlins:
Marlins [proposed] ballpark
http://www.marlinsballpark.com/bicentennial.html

 

 

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