Last month, the Bayfront Park Management Trust approved in a 5-4 vote to put a futuristic playground for kids within Museum Park. That’s the wide-open space downtown that’s south of the art and science museums, and north of the arena, that has the potential to become Miami’s signature park — the city’s breathtaking counterpart to New York’s Central, to Chicago’s Millennium.
This month — in fact, at its meeting this week — Trust members should hit “pause.” In theory, a play area, indeed belongs in the park — but not yet. The Yes votes acted irresponsibly, which was a disservice to government process, residents, taxpayers, and the spirit of Museum Park.
First, there was only one vendor considered, German manufacturer Berliner. With good intentions of jump-starting upgrades to Museum Park, City Commissioner Frank Carollo, who chairs the Trust, proposed what he calls a “cutting edge” play area. But there were no requests for proposal, no other bidders sought, no other designs floated. What’s the rush? There is absolutely no urgency here.
Second, funding for the more than $2 million playground is uncertain. In fact, this unnecessary project has caused a kerfuffle between Carollo and Ken Russell, a fellow commissioner who heads the Omni Community Redevelopment Agency. The CRA has a contested agreement to give the Trust $2 million a year for 15 years — $30 million total. But the CRA won’t turn over a $2 million installment for the playground…