Miami City Council Discusses Future Of Ultra

It’s been almost two weeks since Ultra Music Festival ended, marking its first time at Virginia Key this year. The event wasn’t without its challenges, which was to be expected after only having four months to prepare. Transportation issues the first day, as well as a small fire, contributed to a flood of negative comments on social media; however, the festival ended on a positive note.

Now, the Miami City Council must vote on whether it gets another year on Virginia Key. When the current contract was approved by a 4-1 vote last November, it included a revocable option within 60 days after the festival given special circumstances.

The City Council included a discussion on Ultra in its agenda for the meeting today, which Miami Herald reporter Joey Flechas attended — Flechas has been instrumental in sharing Ultra news from the meetings, including the vote last year. Over the course of the meeting, Key Biscayne Mayor Mike Davey appeared to oppose the festival returning in 2020. Davey created a defamatory video before the issue went to vote last year, which Ultra called “blatantly disreputable.”

Commissioner Joe Carollo, who was the sole nay vote last November, continued to voice his opposition to the festival. “Carollo makes it clear, if it isn’t already: He will oppose bringing Ultra back to Virginia Key,” tweeted Flechas during the meeting.

City Manager Emilio Gonzalez and Commissioner Keon Hardemon voiced their support for the festival, recognizing the monumental task they were given with only months to prepare. Flechas tweeted, “Hardemon said Ultra was given lemons & they made lemonade.”

Ultra is now in the 2-month period where the city has to decide if it wants keep festival on the island. Flechas says that a vote is scheduled for May 9, 21 days before the 2-month period ends.

Now Key Biscayne Mayor Mike Davey speaking to oppose Ultra Music Festival’s presence on Virginia Key. Ultra is in the 2-month period where city has to decide if it wants keep festival on island.

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

Carollo has a discussion item on Ultra later today. Suarez says he got emails from Key residents and Miami residents complaining about Ultra. Thanks Davey for his perspective, and indicates he wants adjustments before festival can come back.

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

Suarez was very supportive of Ultra’s move to Virginia Key, told press 2 days before festival that Virginia Key was right location for festival. After first night logistical problems & noise complaints from residents, he’s shifted

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

Now he has specific changes he wants festival to make before coming back, including turning down the bass, improving the transportation plan, more use of water taxis,

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

In his mayor’s message, Suarez is now outlining some of his recommendations if city wants to keep Ultra on Vga Key. Wants city to set a standard for lo-frequency bass so that it cannot be heard from the mainland. Wants to consider moving back festival closing time

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

Also wants Ultra to not use to Vizcaya as a drop-off point. Recommends Government Center as an alternative.

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

A stream of citizens have asked commissioners to not let Ultra come back or at least consider waiting to make a decision until after environmentalists have a better sense of the impact on Virginia Key’s sensitive environment

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

Significant opposition to Ultra’s return to the island in public comment. The discussion will be held later this afternoon. Commission broke for lunch, will come back at 3 p.m.

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

Now, onto Ultra Music Festival. #ultra

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

Commissioner Joe Carollo has opened a discussion item to discuss impacts of festival. A police officer reports numbers we already know — 37 arrests, mostly for trespassing. Notes that one person jumped from bridge to try to swim around and sneak into festival.

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

Carollo seems to be disappointed with Ultra’s performance. Says Key Biscayne residents’ concerns should not be dismissed. The complaints about loud music from mainland residents were not surprising, he said.

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

Commission Manolo Reyes says he expected there to be hiccups, particularly in the first year. Jokes that he and Willy Gort used to jump from the Powell bridge to swim in the bay for fun

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

City Manager Emilio Gonzalez emphasizes that understanding first-year hiccups, he believe the festival operations can be tweaked to deal with logistical problems — using more water vessels, ending event earlier in the night, and readjusting bus shuttle system.

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

Hardemon opens his comments by thanking city staff and Ultra for coordinating what he considers to be a “marvelous” operation.”Whatever narrative has been put in the media, this was a tremendously successful event.”

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

Hardemon said Ultra was given lemons & they made lemonade. Which, when you consider history here, is true. Ultra spent months hashing out a contract w/Carollo last year, only to have Carollo reject that contract in September, sparking a unanimous rejection.

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

Then they faced a make-or-break vote in November for a Virginia Key venue, a brand new venue for a huge production. Less time to plan, they needed to take what they could get bc they had sold tickets. Even angry Key Biscayners say organizers did the best they could

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

The main objection from folks, across the board, is that Virginia Key is simply not an appropriate venue bc it has one causeway in and out, sound carries over water to agitate mainland residents, and the environment/wildlife is sensitive and prone to negative impact

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

Reality is that Ultra faced some serious logistical challenges, transit plans were untested bc an event of that size was unprecedented on Vga Key, and sound inconvenience was unknown (with specificity, who would hear it and where) until after the event happened.

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

Facing those challenges, night 1 was a mess for people leaving who expected more order and a speedier exit, and the next few nights were markedly better.

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

Russell is clearly focused on the point that the main stage faced west, toward Miami. Residents from the Roads, Brickell, Grove, and even as far as Edgewater could hear the bass.

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

Carollo is now reading emails he received from residents who complained about hearing Ultra’s bass. One by one, he’s reading multiple emails into the record. People complaining of windows rattling and flashing lights at night.

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

I got a lot of emails and even some texts from people I know like this, too. Residents, ranging from angry to a little annoyed, with the bass carrying over the mainland, with lines of festivalgoers at the Vizcaya pick-up/drop-off point, with the lights,

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

On the other hand, I also interviewed a lot of people who (apart from the logistics) had a great time, enjoyed themselves, filled hotel rooms and ate at local restaurants. Like with any big event that has an international audience, there’s a economic value to Ultra

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

At the same time, the environmental impact has not been fully understood, according to environmental activists, Were research animals affected? Or birds?

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

Carollo stopped his reading, noting that his point is that he got emails from a wide stretch across Miami, at different times (some in the early morning form exasperated citizens).

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

Carollo makes it clear, if it isn’t already: He will oppose bringing Ultra back to Virginia Key. So that’s one “no.” It would take three no votes to oust Ultra from the island.

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

So regarding Ultra, the showdown is set for May 9. Commissioners want more time, they want to notice this vote to all interested parties, and get all proponents and opponents to comment and then decided if Ultra gets another year on Virginia Key.

— Joey Flechas (@joeflech) April 11, 2019

Photo via Rukes.com

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