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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Should the City be more welcoming to the sailors?

Bacardi village in Kennedy Park.

I wasn't sure how to take this when the conversation first started. My instincts were to take the City's side since it's my home, but the more the conversation went on, the more I see how the City could be wrong.

As you know, the Bacardi Sailing Regatta was in town all week and I had an interesting conversation with one of the people involved, Gabriele Pedone, the event chair who is with Studio Milano. They put on the functions around town including the events at CocoWalk and the sailors village in Kennedy Park where the sailors hang out, eat, drink and party. The first question Gabriele asked me was why the event was in Kennedy Park rather than Regatta Park. I didn't have an answer, but I asked Kevin Kerwin, the City Parks Director and he said, "Regatta Park is for their dinghies and other small boats. We purposely do not want tents there to impact the grass and its recovery. This has been explained to them from the beginning."

I surmised that myself, since the grass was made a mess of from a regatta which took place in January, which may I remind people here that I was called a "regatta hater" and "sailor hater" when I brought up the fact about the grass being torn up during that particular regatta in our brand new park. 

Gabriele also brought up the fact that the city does not welcome the sailors, they sort of just arrive and are on their own. "We're here, now what?" They don't get that type of treatment elsewhere, I am told that other cities welcome them with open arms, arrange transportation, things for them to do and on the whole pamper them. Also, he told me that there is no place that can accommodate their needs, in other words, a boating store or shop to do repairs, sales and that sort of thing, they can't even find a sandwich in the vicinity of the regattas. I told them that supposedly is coming.

Another thing that Gabriele was unhappy about was the nickle and diming by the City of Miami, it seems that the city charges the sailors for everything. Gabriele handles other Regattas including a very large one in Newport, RI in June, and he says that Newport is very happy to have the sailors in town, they pay for everything and they make it very easy for the sailors to be there. Here in the Grove the sailors not only have to pay for parking daily ($20 a day I was told), but they have to also find places to store their trailers. Gabriele had to scrounge a space across South Bayshore Drive at Ransom Everglades, as did other sailors. He says that rather than accommodate the sailors and make it easy for them, the city makes it quite difficult and charges for everything. He says that are guests here with lots of money to spend and the City wants every penny they can get.

I also assumed the sailing village was put on by the city, but the tented sailing village is put on and paid for by Gabriele's company and the city charges them to put the event on in the park. In Gabriele's and other participants' eyes the city does nothing for the sailors who spend money on hotels, restaurants and everything else and they rent them the park space rather than just find a space to accommodate them as a courtesy. When the Expo Center was here and the sailors did their yearly art exhibit, they were charged for space there, too. A nickle here, a dime here. The City is a monster that needs to be fed non-stop.

"If there is a car show, do you charge the cars to be part of the show? Why do they charge the sailors to store their boats/trailers and to park their cars?" asked Gabriele. 

"We are disappointed not to be in Regatta Park, which it is my belief that the park was created for regattas," said Gabriele.

I asked him why the Bacardi Regatta comes back year after year if there is a problem with the City of Miami and he told me that other than tradition, there is no other reason.

It's true that so many of our events in Coconut Grove are dying off because of high city costs. The city always has its hand out asking for fees for everything imaginable. Other municipalities in the county don't charge an arm and a leg for people to hold events, they encourage them and in many cases they don't charge anything as they find it to be a privilege to have events in their cities (car shows, art shows, and possibly regattas in the future).

For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.


Blogger suz said...

As I run past Regatta park each day this week, I see it gradually filling up with trailers and boats. I think the city needs to be fair and great all events equally and allow boats in there. I love that the sailors and their sponsors like the "idea" of Miami. I just wish Miami would live up to their expectations.

March 13, 2016 1:44 PM  
Blogger Grant Sheehan said...

I wish I had something positive to say but the city of Miami’s Chamber of Commerce is the worst let alone the Groves! (Do we even have one?) When you call the cities chamber they don’t even mention the Grove it is all Brickell/downtown. Just do a blind call and see what you get.

Several years ago I wanted to bring a conference to Miami and all the site locators showed us was Miami Beach.
I advised them that being from the Grove I would like to have it here. After much debate and forcefulness I finally put them (200) in the Mayfair and too this day everyone swears by the Grove and wants to come back (hopefully in 2018). It was so convenient to walk out the door and have everything you need as to restaurants, theaters and drinking establishments. (And the best shopping is in Coral Gables just a few minutes away).

I have put on a conference every year for the past 15 years from San Diego (Gaslight District) to Boston (old Town), Nashville (Broadway), New Orleans (Bourbon St.), Las Vegas (everything), all cities that our attendees don’t need a car to have a great time and the Grove was the Best of all but it took a lot of effort to get past the Beach and downtown/Brickell salesmen.

We, the Grove, should welcome events and conferences (and do the best we can to accommodate them) to fill the few hotels we have in the Grove. When you bring in visitors from across the country there is nothing like the Grove!!!!

The main problem is that we are not our own city and have to depend on the leadership of commissioners who consider us a stepchild of the City of Miami! We have no way of controlling our own destiny when it comes to facilitating visitors in the Grove.

I hope someone who reads this can prove me wrong and can guide us in a better direction.

March 13, 2016 6:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the modern world as opposed to just 20 years ago, there was more space for everything including parking. Humans feel a necessity to create very, very large cities and a billion or so farmers have chosen to leave their land and move to these cities over a period of about 100 years. Cites need money just like everyone else, and every business. I personally stay away from this rat race to the best of my ability and I use the Bay and I pay to use the Bay; my boat, trailer, engine, gas, oil, maintenance, tag and permits, plus $8.00 for every 24 hours of parking. Where are the Bacardi Regatta folks going to find a place like Coconut Grove to do their thing! Everybody except the homeless has to pay today. It's called life and these Bacardi Regatta folks have the bucks, so pay up like the rest of us. Jobie Steppe

March 13, 2016 6:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just saw 5 sailors using the water fountain at Kennedy Park for bathing, so, yes, maybe the city should accommodate the sailors a little better. Five men in their underwear was a little much!

March 14, 2016 9:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hear all three major regattas are unhappy of Regatta Park and this is not good… City of Miami wake-up… they bring thousands of sailors to the Grove and that’s a lot of $$$ for our community along with an extensive worldwide media coverage… what’s hard to understand that we need to facilitate as much as possible the reason why they’re here so they keep on coming (read spending) and placing Biscayne Bay and Miami as one of the top sailing location??? Is Regatta Park for regattas or what? If not you should rename it “NOT a Regatta Park” :))

March 14, 2016 11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the facilities at the dockmasters building - ya know the multimillion dollar structure the city just built right in that spot?

March 14, 2016 11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right on 11:57: We have numerous parks, bathrooms, water fountains, restaurants and bars to the North, East, South, and West, and like you noted we have that what 24,000 square dockmasters house, if not for those boaters, then what? I didn't ask, rather I don't ask folks to come to the Grove to enjoy EVERYTHING we have to offer in the way of natural beauty and infrastructure. I'm sure the ladies don't mind 5 men taking a shower at a water fountain. Hell, I saw a man allow his dog to drink from one as others waited in line to get a drink on a hot summer day. Oh, where do these folks pee when their out on the Bay all day? They'll be back, want to bet?

March 14, 2016 2:23 PM  
Blogger Grove Mom said...

When I walk by the restaurant that resides in our community center at the Glass House, I realize that the city has other priorities... not sure what they are, but Parks and Recreation facilities and events for citizens or visitors are not among them.

For some reason, our parks (which are paid for by our tax dollars, BTW) are run like For Profit businesses.

This regatta should be a priority for our parks.

I propose an independent Parks commission, similar to what NYC has, to set priorities, raise funds and stop for profit development of our public parks.

March 16, 2016 10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agreed that the parks belong to the people, but I see nothing wrong with turning a profit, say, if nothing else than to reduce the maintenance fees to keep parks green and safe, reduce our tax burden.

March 16, 2016 11:32 AM  
Anonymous Swlip said...

Thanks for this post, which contains a lot of important information. It's hard to know where to begin when considering how to unravel this problem and find solutions. But I don't think it will ever be resolved without a fundamental change in the city's attitude, which can be summarized as, "This is Miami, you should consider yourself lucky to be here."

Part of the problem, in addition to city intransigence, is the lack of launch access points. As things are, the only places in the Grove that regatta participants can launch their boats are the Seminole Boat Ramp, the Coconut Grove Sailing Club, the U.S. Sailing Center, Coral Reef Yacht Club, and Biscayne Bay Yacht Club. The clubs can typically only accommodate a few design categories (CGSC, for example, hosts the Snipe class for the Bacardi Cup), which drives a lot of traffic to the Seminole Ramp. Regatta Park was supposed to create more launch points along the south seawall of Dinner Key, but that is years away (and, in any event, that part of the plan calls for relocating the CGSC and U.S. Sailing Center to the south seawall, as well, so the net effect may be to eventually reduce launch space).

March 21, 2016 8:59 AM  

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