Miami Circle - Learn More - Planning Group, Minutes June 27, 2003


Friday, June 27, 2003, 10:00AM – 12:30PM
Historical Museum of Southern Florida
101 West Flagler Street
Miami, Florida

Members Present:

Alejandro J. Aguirre, Publisher, Diario Las Americas
Jennifer Beber, President, Beber Silverstein & Partners
Greg Bush, President, Urban Environmental League
Linda Canzanelli, Superintendent, Biscayne National Park
Robert Carr, Executive Director, Archaeological & Historical Conservancy
Billy Cypress, Director, Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum, representing Seminole Tribe of Florida
Christopher Eck, Executive Director, Historic Preservation Officer, Broward County
Historical Commission
Jorge Hernandez, Vice-Chair, Florida Historic Preservation Advisory Council
Janet Snyder Matthews, Chair and Director, Florida Division of Historical Resources
Captain David Miller, Managing Director, Miami River Commission
Arva Moore Parks McCabe, Presidential Appointee, US Advisory Council for Historic
Enid Pinkney, Member, Miami-Dade County Historic Preservation Board
Becky Roper Matkov, Executive Director, Dade Heritage Trust
Michael Spring, Executive Director, Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs

Alternates Present:

Lavinia Freeman, representing Brenda H. Marshall, Senior Project Manager, The Trust for
Public Land

Members Absent:

Billy Cypress, Chairman, Miccosukee Tribe of Florida
James Miller, Vice Chair
Parker Thomson, Chairman, Performing Arts Center Trust

Others Present:

Adrian Baschur, WDLG10
Brett Bibeau, Miami River Commission
J. Andrew Brian, President, Historical Museum of South Florida
Sue Camp, Miami-Dade County, Department of Cultural Affairs
Roxanne Cappello, Historical Museum of South Florida
Marie Denis, Miami-Dade County, Department of Cultural Affairs
Uwe Doeringer, Dragonfly Expeditions, Inc.
Charles Kropke, Dragonfly Expeditions, Inc.
Jere Lahey, State of Florida Department of Management Services
Charles Michelson, Saltz Michelson Archaeologists
Peggy Osceola, Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum
Ellen Roth, South Florida Regional Director, Office of U.S. Senator Bob Graham
Fernarts Silus (no affiliation provided)
Brenda Swann, Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research

NOTE: This is a summary of the meeting and an actual transcript.

Item I. Call to Order

Meeting was called to order at 10:00 AM by Dr. Janet Snyder Matthews.

Dr. Matthews asked for a motion to accept minutes of May 14, 2002, as distributed.

MOTION: Ms. Parks moved to approve the minutes of the May 14, 2003, meeting.
SECOND: Mr. Spring seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.
• Billy Cypress, who arrived a few minutes late, and after the motion passed, requested that the Chairman of the Seminole Tribe listed on the May 14, 2003 meeting be changed to reflect the current Chairman.

Dr. Matthews discussed the goals of the meeting and announced her new position as the Chairman of the National Historic Landmarks Committee for the National Park Service and expounded on the goals of that committee.

Item II. Update on Senate Bill 111/House Bill 1361, Senate Bill 1894, Congressional authorization for a special resource study regarding national significance and feasibility of incorporation of the Miami Circle/Brickell Point into Biscayne National Park

Status of Bill in Congress

  • Ellen Roth, Regional Director, Senator Graham’s South Florida Office stated that the bill was passed in the Senate back in
    March 4, 2003.
  • Bill moved to the House, where it has been referred to the House Committee on Resources
  • Congressman Kendrick Meek and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen requested that the bipartisan sponsored bill bypass the committee process, and be sent to the suspension calendar.

Timeframe of Study

Ms. Roth added that after the enactment of the legislation the park service has three years to conduct the study as to the feasibility of adding the Circle to Biscayne National Park. Once that study is complete, and depending on the results and recommendations, more legislation is needed to create the enactment so that the Circle can be included.

Show Support for Bill

Dr. Matthews asked if it would be appropriate for members of the Planning Group to call their congressional representatives and encourage them to contact Mr. Palmbo and let him know of their support in moving this to the suspension calendar. Ms. Roth replied in the affirmative.

Item III. New Interim Agreement, SAT Grant application and TPL Loan Repayment

New Interim Agreement
Michael Spring, Director Miami-Dade County Cultural Affairs, stated that the county government and the state of Florida as amended the interim agreement for the responsibility and care of the site.

The amendment

  • provides the state with the authorization to conduct interim site access work.
  • provides for tours and educational activities to occur on the site during this interim period.

SAT Grant Application

  • The Save America’s Treasures (SAT) program is a very competitive national program that is designed to provide support for saving important national historic sites.
  • Miami-Dade County, with help from several around the table, submitted a grant request to SAT for the second year in a row
  • County received encouragement from the SAT staff and hopes to fare more favorably this year.

TPL Loan Repayment

  • State and county were partners in the purchase of the property and saving the property from commercial development in 1998/1999 and are grateful to the Trust fund for Public Lands for the interim loan that they provided the county so that we could complete the financing to pay the developer for the site.
  • The final payment is due November 30th of this year.
  • Mr. Spring was asked questions about public access. He responded that the property was not ready for tours or public access, but a plan will be put in place for when it is ready.

Item IV. Update on Public Education and Access

Museum Exhibit

J. Andrew Brian, President/CEO, Historical Museum of Southern Florida, informed the Group that the museum has done quite a bit of work on the interpretation of the Miami Circle site including the review of archaeological interpretation of south Florida dealing with three specific archaeological sites, the Miami Circle being one aspect.

Onsite Tours

  • Museum has worked with local agencies to provide access on a limited basis to the site.
  • They are developing tour information for the site.
  • When access to a site is visitor friendly, the museum will use the tour information to conduct tours that include an interpreta tion of South Florida history at the museum, then proceed to the site and have something specific there, and then back to the museum for follow-up.
  • The Museum has been able to provide limited access to specific groups on an occasional basis. When the site is available on a regular basis, they will probably have a tourist schedule about once or twice a month.

Options for transportation and parking for onsite tours

  • Bob Carr asked Mr. Brian how they plan to implement public access. Specifically, will they be physically transporting people over to the museum, via tram, bus? Mr. Brian responded that they do not know exactly and presented two scenarios:
  • Assemble at the museum and take public transportation to a place near the site and walk to the site.
  • Have a public bus drive from the museum, where they could accommodate parking, to the site.
  • There are several scenarios but nothing decided.
  • Becky Matkov brought up the option of using First Presbyterian for parking/staging ground.
  • Mr. Brian stated that all options are still open. Today at 2:00 p.m. there will be a guided tour of the installation at the museum on the Miami Circle.

Item V. Update on Biscayne National Park as it relates to short-term management plans.

Details about how feasibility studies work

  • Ms. Canzanelli stated that last fall the new study area for the historic black beach at Virginia Key passed the House and the Senate. That is another area that is being suggested to add to Biscayne National Park. The process, unless Congress supercedes them by giving them funding for specific areas, is to put these areas in a queue and do a priority list based on when the area’s bill for a feasibility study is passed. That will be the case for Brickell Point as well. An outside group is looking at doing some of the funding in order to move that study ahead.
  • Ms. Canzanelli added that Biscayne National Park is working with the Trust of Public land on how to get better public access to
    the shores of Biscayne Bay. She stated that it is very important for all of these sites to be linked into existing greenway trails so that people have the ability to link the current history with the past history of Miami.
  • Ms. Canzanelli answered questions regarding who does the assessments. Her response was that park staff does not do it. Sometimes done a central group completes them. Because of all the new areas of study, 40 or so that are approved by Congress annually, it is usually contracted out.
  • Mr. Spring reiterated his understanding of the approval process for the study.
  • Ms. Canzanelli stated that Congress allots a lump sum to the National Park Service to do their priority list of studies. It does not make a dent in the backlog. Part of the challenge is meeting the three-year deadline.
  • Ms. Canzanelli answered a question on how many studies there were for the superintendency advised that there were two.
  • Dr. Matthews elaborated on the process and how fierce the competition is. Dr. Matthews announced that there were 36 landmark sites in Florida. Ft. King was added at the last meeting and has been formally recommended to the Secretary of Interior. The archaeological studies for Ft. King began in 1954.
  • Ms Canzanelli answered a question about the process was for prioritizing the studies and stated that new ones are added to the bottom of this list.

National Park Service approach to archaeological resources:

Ms. Canzanelli explained that the [National] Park Service takes a conservative approach with respect to archaeological sites, to be minimalist, and do just what is necessary to protect and preserve the site until a full assessment is completed. An important, sensitive cultural site calls for consensus building with a wide group of people. What has been proposed about access to the site to educate about the complexity and value is important, but caution on the side of minimalism regarding improvements not directly linked to protection of the resource itself should be considered.

Item VI. Status of implementing the conceptual plan approved by Miami Circle Planning

Group 5/2002

Client-Agency agreement between Department of State and Department of Management Services Jere Lahey, Contract Manager, Florida Department of Management Services (DMS), stated that the Division of Historical Resources is their client and would have final approval of the design for the available funds. DMS will in turn retain architects, in this case Charles Michelson, Saltz Michelson Architects, to prepare different concepts to give to the Division of Historical Resources for discussion on the best approach to bring more people to the site.

Difficulties with previously proposed [thatched-roof] structure

  • Mr. Lahey stated that the problem with the pole structure was that in order to handle wind loads it would have to be reinforced by sinking them deeply into the limestone strata. The funds available for this structure were also an issue.
  • Dr. Matthews stated that they were looking at a bid of $1 million for a temporary structure, which was not minimalistic with respect to the grounds and not temporary in terms of its costs.
  • Mr. Lahey wished to discuss the issue of interim and how that will be defined. He stated that temporary could be five to ten years. The cost being associated with the word “interim” needs to be looked at in a different light.

Item VII. Plans for short-term site protection and limited public access.

Items to consider for short-term

  • Mr. Michelson stated that there were three items to address:
  • Protection from the elements. Provide a retractable cover to provide protection from the
    elements that can be retracted when people tour the site, then replaced when not in use.
  • Entry to site. Must come up with a path that brings you from the entrance to the site while respecting that the entire site is archaeological in nature. Proposing a path of crushed stone covered in mulch on a very defined path.
  • Creating a meandering path through the site.

DOS/DMS retractable cover proposal

  • Dr. Matthews asked Mr. Michelson to describe the retractable cover. Mr. Michelson stated it would be similar to a pool cover material or a type of canvas material. Something with protection and strength.
  • Arva Parks asked whether any kind of transparent material had been considered.
  • Mr. Michelson responded that transparent materials were modern and some were not watertight or would fog over.
  • Dr. Matthews asked Jorge Hernandez, architect and Florida Historical Commissioner, to comment on what the vision for public access and site protection should be.
  • Mr. Hernandez agrees with the mulch path, but has misgivings about the retractable cover but decided to wait to comment until it is submitted.
  • Enid Pinkney made a statement that several people are against the protective structure being anything artificial.
  • Mr. Cypress answered a question regarding the use of the site for ceremonies by Native Americans and whether they minded if
    the structure was covered. Mr. Cypress stated not as long as it was retractable or made available.

Site Protection

  • Mr. Spring was asked what level of protection is necessary that the other [thatched-roof] structure did not provide. He responded that he was less qualified to comment on the issue of how intrusive the thatch roof structure would be, but that the pro bono group that they worked with had options to minimize the intrusiveness.
  • Mr. Carr when was asked when a consensus could be reached about the level of protection that is required. Mr. Carr responded that this group is empowered to reach some kind of consensus. The paramount concern is protection from the elements and, as Mr. Hernandez stated, the spiritual consideration. Mr. Carr suggested asking Mr. Cypress.
  • Mr. Cypress said that plans for the retractable cover look good, and there needs to be a balance between long and short term. He said that he thinks protecting it as much as possible for the long haul is most important, and he is not aware of anything that Native Americans would object to as far as being covered up, as long as it’s available for ceremonies.
  • Mr. Hernandez asked for a scientific consensus of what is reasonable protection, and asked the archaeological community to define this.
  • Mr. Carr responded that the sun was the number one element to protect against. Water is second and then wind, but it needs to be able to breath.
  • After a discussion on protective measures, Mr. Hernandez called for another meeting to discuss this topic and all of its options.
  • Mr. Carr was asked the question that once an artifact is uncovered how much is deterioration accelerated. Mr. Carr responded that limestone is deteriorating very rapidly, and the best way to stop or decrease deterioration is to rebury the circle feature. In any case, it is important that we do something immediately or as soon as possible to cover it.
  • Mr. Hernandez stated that he was concerned about other, as of yet unfound, archaeological treasures. He further stated that if
    any structure was to be constructed it should back up to the hotel or to the bridge with an “L” shaped or linear interpretive path. He agrees with others that decisions need to move forward.


Jennifer Beber made motion to cover it with sand immediately while Mr. Carr prepares options for what we will do for our 5-10 year interim solution. Dr. Matthews asked whether Ms. Beber would like to include the placement of a mulch path to the circle location in the motion. Ms. Beber answered in the affirmative.


Mr. Hernandez seconded the motion.


Discussion ensued about different options for site protection.


Mr. Hernandez left for another appointment and asked Mr. Spring to stand as his proxy. Mr. Spring made an amendment to the motion to look at the range of other solutions from various sources, including Mr. Carr. Ms. Beber restated the motion, with amendment. Ms. Beber moved that the site be covered and a mulch path be placed on the site leading to the circle feature immediately while the Planning Group reviews a range in terms of permanence and in terms of the goals or objectives.

Motion and amendment passed unanimously.

Item VIII. Miami River Greenway Grant

Captain David Miller, Managing Director, Miami River Commission, suggests tying into the existing bay walk. Both the city and the county have approved this Greenway plan. The public access to the site now is limited to the alleyway next to the Sheraton. Our vision is to bring a sixteen-foot path along the river, which in the future will tie to the river walk, and then tie into the existing bay walk. The Florida Recreational Trails program awarded the Commission a grant for the pathway along Brickell point. Public access needs to be considered.

Dr. Matthews informed the members that Alexandra Weiss, Office of Greenways and Trails, was scheduled to also address this agenda item, but is delayed at the Orlando Airport. Dr. Matthews informed Captain Miller that the Department of Transportation is de-obligating the funds for this grant project. [Subsequent to the meeting, Ms. Weiss clarified that the grant was being de-obligated].

Mr. Spring summarized that we should protect the artifact and cover it in a way that can be reversible. Also, put in a path to the site that is the least intrusive (closer to the Sheraton). And also, instruct that the range of options be looked at and more fully worked up and this range should include everything from permanently covering the circle, to a retractable cover, intrusiveness to the site, cost, and engineering feasibility for those things. The team to look at this should include Mr. Carr. Protecting it and covering it now, getting a path out there, so that while we look at the range of these other interim solutions there is some site access to the public, is the correct course of action.

Item IX. Tribal Perspective on site plans

Dr. Matthews introduced Billy L. Cypress, Director, Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum

Mr. Cypress stated that things were on the right course and that the motion was timely. Native Americans are sometimes more democratic, we don’t all think the same way, so we say cover up the Miami Circle. There may be someone somewhere who says “no, no, no, don’t do that you will stifle the spirits or whatever” but I think that we are on the right course. It has to be balanced between religious concerns and saving the site. In the short run, I think what you are doing for right now is good, so you may have someone come forth saying, “no, no, no, that’s wrong” but we expect that in a democratic society.

Item X. Brickell Park

Dr. Matthews introduced Dr. Greg Bush, Past President, Urban Environmental League

Dr. Bush stated that the city may get Brickell Park, and this group should look at the larger site and have a subcommittee or group that examines the questions and comes back with ways to proceed. Would like to see Brickell Park included as part of the interpretive and public access design.

Dr. Matthews stated that the authority of the Planning Group only extends to the 2.2 acres owned by the State.

Item XI. Site Significance

Multiple Resource approach to site significance

  • Barbara Mattick, Deputy SHPO for Survey and Registration gave an overview of the process stating that when going for national landmark, significance is very high. Another concept that is built into the National Register process is that it needs to be at least 50 years old. It is difficult at this point to make a case for individual national significance, but it could be approached from the point that this site is part of a larger group or part of the park.
  • Mr. Carr stated that if we tie this into a multiple resource approach, you now look at the circle as a much larger site. Dr. Bush stated his belief that this was the best approach to use.
  • Ms. Canzanelli stated that she supports this approach and volunteered her staff if needed

Item XII. Closing Remarks

Dr. Matthews announced that the Florida had a new Secretary of State, Glenda Hood and that Dr. David Dickel, the new State Archaeologist, was delayed at the Orlando airport with Alex Weiss. They will be arriving by noon.

Captain Miller asked that the group give them guidance as to the next step with regard to the Greenway path along the river. He was asked to work closely with Mr. Carr and the rest of this group.


Ms. Pinkney made a motion to adjourn.


Ms. Canzanelli seconded the motion. Motion passed unanimously.

Meeting Adjourned at 12:10 p.m.

Prepared by Brenda Swann, Archaeology Supervisor and Acting Chief, Bureau of Archaeological Research