The Biscayne Times

Apr 10th
A Legend’s Changing Legacy PDF Print E-mail
Written by Janet Goodman, BT Contributor   
November 2019

Maurice A. Ferré Park will stay undeveloped

IParkPatrol_1n the 1960s, the Port of Miami was relocated to Dodge Island. By 1976, Bicentennial Park opened in the port’s former location on Biscayne Boulevard.

In the past seven years, the Pérez Art Museum Miami and the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science have risen within the park’s 31.2 acres --aptly renamed Museum Park, while the park itself has undergone renovations, including a $10 million baywalk, promenades, and a reopened Metromover Museum Park Station.

In December 2018, the city commission unanimously voted to rename Museum Park in honor of former six-term Mayor Maurice A. Ferré, Miami’s first Hispanic and the nation’s first Puerto Rican mayor, who passed away from cancer on September 19.

Ferré was elected to the Florida House in 1967, then served as Miami mayor from 1973-1985, making him the longest-serving mayor in the city’s history. He also served as a city commissioner, a Miami-Dade County Commissioner, chairman of the Downtown Development Authority, and more recently as a member of the Florida Transportation Commission.

ParkPatrol_2The Miami Herald reports that Mayor Ferré saw the Brickell area as having potential to be an international banking center and recognized the need for the city to purchase waterfront property for “public enjoyment.”

During the 1980s, he helped spur $3 billion in downtown investment. City Commissioner Joe Carollo told the Herald: “The redevelopment of downtown began with his ideas.”

Former Miami parks director Albert Ruder called Ferré’s municipal government leadership visionary, and after his death, Ferré was remembered by the Herald as “a pioneering and charismatic mayor who took political risks and pushed Miami to live up to its potential as a cosmopolitan city while facing its failings when it came to racial discrimination and inclusion.” An editorial in the paper had the headline: “Miami is a vibrant world-class city. You can thank Maurice Ferré for that.”

After reading Ferré’s letter to the mayor and commissioners, and hearing his commission meeting comments calling the park Miami’s “crown jewel,” the city commission voted unanimously in April 2019 to retain the park intact and not build a mixed-use, income-producing waterfront facility on park property. The future of the adjoining FEC boat slip remains unclear, as Commissioner Carollo wants to create a 9.5-acre park extension by filling it in. Carollo serves as chairman of the Bayfront Park Management Trust, which is a limited agency of the city. It alone manages Bayfront and Ferré parks.

ParkPatrol_3Here are excerpts from Ferré’s letter published in the Herald on March 27, 2019, days before the commission meeting about allowing amusement park entertainment at Bayfront Park:

“I think this would open up all our waterfront parks to become a Miami ‘Coney Island.’ At the very least, please delete the amusement rides from the Maurice A. Ferré Park. One of my regrets and a shortcoming of my tenure in office was not having paid more attention to the need of a greener Miami. On the contrary, being one of the proponents for development, I was a pro-growth mayor. Now at age 83, and, obviously, towards the end of my life, I have finally awoken to the reality of the truth of our need for more green parks. Organized parks include activities that attract people to the park, but that cannot be at the expense of open green areas. To consider building more museums or buildings on Parcel ‘B’ is a betrayal of the commitment that I and the other county commissioners made to keep Parcel ‘B’ a green area. It’s time for us to recognize, in our quest for monetizing beauty, that just the presence of an open green area has an irreplaceable price which has no simple calculation on a computer. Since I was one of the culprits, if not the main culprit, let me plead with you to be stronger and wiser than I was, and spare the little area that we have left as green space along Biscayne Boulevard.”

Ferré also called the interest in developing the FEC slip and green area adjacent to it in the park “alarming.”

ParkPatrol_4For the most part, the park has remained a lovely open green space, with maintained lawns, mature shade trees, looping concrete walkways, and striking bricked promenades and a baywalk with long limestone benches.

The south end has wide panoramas of green framed by the FEC slip and coconut palms and sandy “beaches” along the Biscayne Bay baywalk. A few cordoned-off sections of the new seawall need repair. Paybyphone parking is available there in a good-size lot, as well as a bathroom building and the Flying Trapeze School, which was for 14 years located at Bayfront Park and moved last year to Ferré Park.

The Spanish Navy Plaza was dedicated on the south lawn in 1991, and in 2012 several old trees from the Brickell City Centre construction site were replanted there, including a 200-year-old oak, gumbo limbo, and strangler fig trees. A shady pedestrian plaza was constructed where the FEC promenade meets the Boulevard, and during a BT visit in late September, a Bahamian hurricane relief effort was under way, with truckloads of supplies on pallets waiting for sea transport from the promenade.

ParkPatrol_5The northern park property is dominated by the museums and the Knight Plaza gardens, brimming with butterfly-friendly plants, silver dollar trees, solar “trees,” and oak- and royal palm-lined promenades that travel west to the Boulevard.

Solar lighting is installed along certain walkways, as are additional benches providing relief for walkers, cyclists, skaters, and scooterists. Bike racks are on the baywalk, and Citibike rentals are stationed by the museum plaza stairs. Visitors walking dogs use the park’s pet waste stations.

José Solano, executive director of the Bayfront Park Management Trust, tells the BT that yoga and fitness classes are held at Ferré Park, but bigger events are scheduled at Bayfront Park, to keep Ferré Park in good shape. The trust is self-sustaining but is still awaiting Omni CRA park improvement funds of $2 million a year for 15 years. Says Solano: “We’re a work in progress.”


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Maurice A. Ferré Park
1075 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, FL 33132

Park Rating
palm-1 palm-1 palm-1 palm-05 palm-05

Open 24 Hours
Picnic Tables
: No
Barbecues: No
Baywalk: Yes
Museums: Yes
Green space: Yes
Bike rentals: Yes
Night lighting: Yes
Playground: No


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