About a year ago President Obama was re-elected guaranteeing that Obamacare would remain or become the law of the land (See how well that’s working out). As a Romney supporter, I was deeply disappointed that our campaign had come up short. At the time there were many other questions and matters on the ballot. One of the issues was a “Referendum Regarding Structures and Modification of Existing Agreements for the Tennis Center at Crandon Park” – it was all the way at the back of the 12-page ballot.
As a Key Biscayne resident, tennis player and advocate of public-private partnerships I was happy to hear that the improvements would be done with private funds and it would improve an already wonderful world-class event that generates millions of dollars to Miami Dade County every year.
Here are some of the troublesome issues that have come to light:
1. The Matheson family who donated Crandon Park to Miami Dade County and have been adamant about maintaining the integrity of the intent of the donor and have sued the county indicating the referendum violated county charter.
2. Tennis Players upset that the new plans will remove clay and grass courts from the county facility;
3. No competitive bids – the property is proposed to be run by a private company owned by IMG (theoretically I have no issue with that) but I am completed troubled by the lack of competitive bids for the management or construction of the project.
4. The county still would have to set aside $1M a year in reserves for the maintenance of the facilities.
I don’t know about you but this is not what I voted for. Even the “fine print” of the ballot language making reference to County Resolution R-660-12 doesn’t mention the removal of tennis and grass courts from Crandon Park. The argument that the courts at the adjacent golf course will be improved is almost a laughable argument to local tennis players. Where would thEse funds come from? Is AIG paying for those improvements?
Oh and the issuance of bonds – albeit guaranteed by tournament revenue- did I miss that? So if AIG wants to continue running tournament, they can obtain their own funding.
finally, the resolution, unanimously approved by the Miami Dade County Commission in August, 2012, said it would create new features and would increase the public’s ability to use and enjoy the site – year round. Well as it turns out that will not be the case unless our County Commission asks some tough questions and hold AIG accountable to the promises made to get the ballot passed while remembering the stewardship owed to the Matheson family who donated the land for the enjoyment of county residents.