Written By: Emilio Pagan
After much heated debate, it was decided that Ultra Music Festival would relocate to Virginia Key. The festival will no longer be in Bayfront Park, where it has been located for the past 18 years. During a tense meeting in City Hall, it was decided that the three-day electronic dance music festival would be set to play on the barrier island March 29 through the 31, 2019.
Many concerned Key Biscayne residents attended the meeting. Mayor Mike Davey led the Key Biscayne contingent of speakers during the comment portion from citizens in opposition to the proposed relocation. Some are strongly against it because of the traffic the festival will bring.
“I would be fine if there was traffic only for one afternoon, but a concert that lasts three days would be an incredible nuisance for people going in and out of the island,” Key Biscayne resident Suli Olavarria said.
Traffic is not the only thing the festival will affect. The location chosen for Ultra is right next door to a wildlife refuge where many manatees swim and birds keep their nests. The concert can completely disrupt the environment that has already suffered through red tides and algal blooms. The loud music can force animals to abandon their nests and the pyrotechnics used during the concert can cause a fire in the heavily wooded areas.
“People are people. They will throw away their trash wherever they see fit. They are not concerned with the environment, they are only concerned with having fun,” AS Marine Science teacher Gina Sese said, worried about the effects of the festival.
After the opposition, the people for Ultra had their chance to speak. Ultra’s attorney, Miguel De Grandy, presented statistics from a Washington DC economic group. They stated that Ultra is responsible for $850 million in positive economic impact, $10 million in Florida sales tax revenue and 4,500 jobs.
Ultra has been considered “the world’s most important and best electronic dance music event” by Rolling Stone. Several seniors and alumni enjoy going to Ultra and even support the new change in location.
“I think that Ultra in Virginia Key is a good idea because it is a bigger space and it is safer for the festival participants,” senior Penelope Roca said.
To protect the environment, the Virginia Key Site management suggests the loud speakers be faced away from habitats, a ban on the sale of plastic water bottles and the use of plastic plates, and the creation of a barrier to prevent shore access and spillover of trash.
Furthermore, certain deals were made by Ultra. They will play $2 million dollars to the City of Miami; $1 million of that amount will go into making an African American History museum on Virginia Key.
In the end, after a heated debate between Key Biscayne residents and the Ultra representatives, the city of Miami’s commision voted 4-1 for the relocation of Ultra into Virginia Key. With said precautions towards the wildlife, the festival should run smoothly.