It’s been a long road and an ever-shrinking budget since the initial 1997 proposal and 2000 Miami City Commission resolution committed to revitalizing Bicentennial Park – now known as Museum Park. The original $128 million plan included garden and water features, a children’s garden and a waterside restaurant. But, to quote the Miami Herald:
Miamians should be well pleased with their scenic new waterfront oasis, which boasts a broad promenade from the boulevard to the bay, an extensive new baywalk, a great lawn, paths shaded by massive oaks, a sandy “beach” near the water’s edge, and unparalleled views of Biscayne Bay, PortMiami and the downtown skyline.
“It should be a great day,’’ said Tim Schmand, director of the Bayfront Park Management Trust, which will also run and maintain Museum Park. “I think people will be mightily impressed. Kids can run round. There are trails to meander. There’s room to kick around a soccer ball, even if you’re not Beckham.”
From 1896, when Henry Flagler built his Peninsular and Occidental Steamship Company docks, until the mid-1960’s when PortMiami moved to Dodge Island, what is now a 19-acre park was part of Miami’s first cargo and passenger port. (For a wonderfully written history of this first port in Miami, check out Curbed Miami’s “The Long, Vital History Of David Beckham’s Stadium Site, The First Port Of Miami” by Sean McCaughan) After the port was moved, and the site remediated, a 30-acre parcel was opened in 1976 as “Bicentennial Park” – the second large park in downtown Miami after Bayfront Park.
In spite of the addition of a MetroMover station on the “Omni Loop” in 1994, lack of use caused Bicentennial Park to close in 1996. The site was briefly considered for the Miami Marlins stadium, but instead a plan developed for two museums and the park. “The Perez Art Museum Miami, along with a new public plaza and a renovated Metromover station, opened in December and is drawing large crowds. The Frost Museum of Science is now under construction… Adjacent to the park’s south side is the seven acre FEC Slip. The seawall at this seven acre body of water was designed to host tall ships and other water dependent events” such as the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle, the only active duty square-rigger sailing ship, which will be open for free public tours today through Monday. Tour times are: Saturday, June 14 : 1 p.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday , June 15: 1 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., and Monday, June 16: 1 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
City officials have promised the addition of a children’s garden and the water-side restaurant as funds become available. In the meantime, “People showed a lot affection for the park even before it opened,’’ the Miami Herald quotes David Polinsky, president of the condo association at 10 Museum Park, “It was designed be a peaceful place. That’s the nice thing about the vibe.”