commercial boats and jet skis may not be allowed to use the purdy avenue boat ramp

Venetian Islands , Sunset Harbour

Susan Askew
Susan Askew

commercial boats and jet skis may not be allowed to use the purdy avenue boat ramp:

neighborhoods committee says commericl kayaks and paddleboard operations okay

Following noise complaints from area residents and safety concerns expressed by boat ramp users, the Commission’s Neighborhood/Community Affairs Committee this month recommended against commercial vessel operation at the Barry Kutin Boat Ramp (also known as the Purdy Avenue Boat Ramp) in Maurice Gibb Park.
As part of a long-running discussion, the Commission sought proposals for entering into concession agreements with two amphibious tour companies (Duck Tours South Beach and Miami Land and Sea Pirate Adventure) and South Beach Kayak that were already operating there. When Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez added Miami Jetski Exotics Rentals to the list for consideration in October, Commissioner Michael Grieco objected, indicating he would only support a concession agreement for a jet ski operator if it was conducting tours. The City then opened negotiations with the company to become a tour operator from the ramp.
By December, the list had grown to six companies under consideration for agreements. At the same time, the City began a pilot with Water Taxi for service from the boat ramp to areas of downtown Miami. In a memo to the Committee, City staff wrote the company “expressed serious concerns and opposition to commercial use of the Boat Ramp as it relates to their ability to provide safe and orderly service.” Staff also indicated “numerous other entities engaging in unauthorized commercial activity.”
Both the Belle Isle Residents Association and the Sunset Harbour Neighborhood Association expressed concerns about the noise and oppose the use of the Boat Ramp for amphibious tours and jet skis. They have no issue with paddleboards and kayaks using the boat ramp (along with private, resident-owned motorized vehicles) until a planned floating dock is constructed.
Staff opposes the commercial use writing in a memo to the Committee that Maurice Gibb “is a community park, not a marina.” In addition to community opposition, they said, “The Park is undergoing a master plan for redevelopment to make [it] an iconic waterfront community park. Commercialization is not consistent with the current vision for the Park.”
Captain Dan Kipnis, Chair of the Miami Beach Marine and Waterfront Protection Authority, told the Committee his group opposed commercial use of the ramp. “We really just want to keep it calm,” he said. “The place has been so out of control for so many years and with the new park, the new ramp, the new floating facility, I think if we focus on that for the residents’ use, it would end up being really good.”
He agreed with Staff that “Commercialization is not consistent with the current vision for that park. We need to keep it to a minimum. Non motorized would do that.”
Attorneys for two of the operators – Hector’s Watersports and I-95 Jetski – objected, saying the noise was not coming from their operations, pointing out that there is a full operating marina next to the park as well as people using modified equipment.
Ralph Andrade, representing I-95 Jetski, argued the code does allow for these types of activities and the purpose of entering into concession agreements “is to prevent and mitigate any potential harm to the neighbors.” He made a passionate plea on behalf of his client: “In my client’s case we’ve been doing this from that boat ramp for about the last ten years without incident. In fact, residents didn’t even know we were there … this is a very active neighborhood. If there were any issues with their operation, you all would have known. You would have gotten calls. You would have gotten emails. And the reason you didn’t know they were there is because they’re good operators and there’s no issues. Now that this can of worms has been opened, some of these residents have been whipped up into a frenzy by a couple of specific residents in the area and that’s unfortunate because what they’re asking you to do is to put a small business, a resident of this city, to put him out of business overnight. A guy that’s been providing services to residents, to children of this city who go for jet ski rides on the weekend with their families, tourists, is to just put him out of business…”
Residents were equally passionate. Frank Kruszewski, a member of the Sunset Harbour South Condominium Association, said in a survey of the 209 residents in the building, 108 responded expressing overwhelming support of non-motorized activities at the boat ramp including kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards. “Everyone in our community, despite what you heard today, is in full support of that type of a business activity because we believe it enhances the quality of life in our neighborhood,” he said. “On the opposite side of the question, 73% of those 108 respondees vehemently object to the motorized operations at that boat ramp.” He called out “the noise during the day from the jet skis, the horns honking from people trying to get around these operators as they’re trying to launch or recover their vehicles and the Duck Tours. That noise is offensive and you would not get the kind of overwhelming response from our community that you did when we did this survey if it was anything other than that.”  He took exception to Andrade’s claim that complaints had not been filed saying he personally had filed complaints about his client parking illegally while loading and unloading equipment.
Commissioner Grieco reminded residents “The boat ramp does have motorized uses all the time. They’re just not commercial. I want to make sure that’s clear. People can still put their boats in there.” But, he added, “I am of the same opinion as the neighborhood when it comes to what the future of that boat ramp should look like.”
To the operators concerned they would be put out of business, Commissioner Rosen Gonzalez said, “At the beginning when all this regulation started, I went and visited the surrounding businesses and it seemed cruel to put somebody out of business but, unfortunately, that neighborhood is changing and I think along with this change and evolution, unfortunately, some people are going to be victims of that. But I’m going to support the neighborhood’s recommendation.” She suggested the operators might be able to work from somewhere else in the City, “But I think the message is loud and clear that people don’t want those jet skis launching off of that dock.”
Commissioner Joy Malakoff added, “I never heard a quiet jet ski. They just are not quiet and I can understand that that area that used to be light industrial is now very, very much desirable as a residential community and I don’t think the two mix.” She, too, expressed hope the jet ski operators could find a more appropriate area to be based from and gave her support to non-motorized commercial uses.
The full Commission will take up the discussion at its April 26th meeting.

purdy avenue boat ramp to close to commercial vessels

Sunset Harbour

Susan Askew
Susan Askew
operators have one month to wind down