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Boat Show's gloves come off in fight with Key Biscayne


There's still a (small) chance that Key Biscayne officials will be able to resolve a high-profile lawsuit with the city of Miami over plans to build an $18 million park and event space on Virginia Key and host the Miami International Boat Show.

But the relationship between the tony island village and the National Marine Manufacturers Association, the Boat Show's parent company, appears irreparable after the latter took off the gloves this week and began to fight back.

For months, the Boat Show has taken hits from Key Biscayne, where elected officials say the massive event planned on the grounds of the Miami Marine Stadium and in the stadium basin will jam the Rickenbacker Causeway with traffic and overwhelm ecologically sensitive areas on Virginia Key. The village also sued the NMMA, alleging that the trade association was hiding public records.

For the most part, Boat Show representatives have dismissed accusations but focused on promoting the upcoming event at Marine Stadium rather than sparring publicly with Key Biscayne officials.

Until this week, when the NMMA sent out a press release accusing the village of launching "an aggressive campaign of mistruths" that could derail one of the region's largest conventions.

"As a good neighbor for more than seven decades, the boat show is focused on continuing that legacy at its new home at Miami Marine Stadium Park & Basin," the release stated. "At the same time, the Village of Key Biscayne has been spreading numerous mistruths in their attempt to stop the boat show from taking place, jeopardizing its future in Miami."

In the release, Boat Show executives touted a traffic plan and dismissed claims that emergency vehicles won't be able to access Key Biscayne through the causeway. They also downplayed concerns raised recently by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in response to a permit application for temporary docks and slips in the Marine Stadium Basin, saying the Corps' response was typical and also that the scope of the show will be smaller than what was applied for in the permit.

See the press release here(Update: see Key Biscayne's counterpoint here.)

Key Biscayne Mayor Mayra Lindsay said she'd seen the Boat Show's statement and stood by the Village's positions.

"At the end of the day, the big issue remains there's only one way in and one way out" of the village, she said. "What they're doing is absolutely absurd."

Meanwhile, the Key Biscayne Village Council and Miami City Commission have a joint meeting planned for 10 a.m. June 16 at the Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus. The meeting is the last of two required mediation sessions triggered by a lawsuit the Village filed against the city.

If the two sides can't come to a resolution, the lawsuit will move forward.