Fall 2003 – Beethoven, not Greyhound, at Brickell Metrorail Station

The skirmish over the destiny of the Brickell Metrorail Station turned out to be a shining example of civic activism at its most victorious. The triumph took the collaborative effort of BHA residents and several of their homeowner and business group allies with the representation of Miami-Dade Commissioner Jimmy Morales. Together, these forces were successful in thwarting the county transportation department’s surprise plan to lease space at the Brickell Station to Greyhound Bus Lines.

Area residents and city officials had learned of the proposal to relocate the Downtown bus terminal in March, only a week before the lease was to be signed. The matter was brought to light in time for the County Commission to reject the location proposal entirely, but only after three months of vigilance on the part of BHA and residents, and the continued efforts of Commissioner Morales.

What happened instead was remarkably glorious and timely, and serves as another shining, inspirational example. The outcome reminds us of how the passion of an individual with a vision can make something wonderful happen. (See the President’s Column for a fuller exploration of passion and Brickell.)

On September 16, 2003, less than two months after the bus terminal idea was mercifully killed, the Beethoven Promenade was dedicated at the station. What a response to commercial buses, diesel stench and noise pollution. An answer with all the resonance of a Beethoven symphony.

It was the result of the passion of Gustavo Alfredo “Gus” Noguera, undoubtedly South Florida’s biggest Beethoven fan, often seen driving around in his custom Beethoven mini-van. A while back he was responsible for persuading the Miami-Dade Commission to name Ninth Street “Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony Street” just a couple of blocks to the north of the station. His mission clearly is anything and everything to recognize and celebrate Beethoven.

And again, Commissioner Morales was the catalyst that helped make this dream happen. The Commissioner praised Mr. Noguera’s perseverance in bringing “the universality and spirit of Beethoven to residents and visitors of South Florida,” an accomplishment he said was fueled by Mr. Noguera’s unmitigated passion.

What does it exactly mean to have the Beethoven Promenade at the Brickell Station? The announcement from the brand-new Beethoven Society of Miami explains that it will be developed with private, corporate and international cooperation. It will include “the Beethoven Odeum, a place for small concerts and poetry reading, and the Beethoven Memorial.” A music and art festival, monthly concerts and Sunday brunches are envisioned. Plans are in the works for the Beethoven Birthday Bash in December.

Hopes are high for many wonderful activities at this neighborhood station. But even if the memorial stands quietly and simply educates about one of the greatest composers of all time, it serves to elevate the importance of culture to all of Miami. And residents will gladly pass by, glance at the bronze Beethoven and imagine their most favorite composition over actually hearing bus engines any day. BRAVO! •

The mobilization of residents in the matter of the Greyhound bus terminal was such a great example that BHA’s actions garnered national attention in the magazine, Common Ground, which covered the issue. “…Brickell residents have quickly mobilized against the bus depot. They have waged letter-writing and email campaigns, generated media coverage, and enlisted the help of several prominent local government officials.”

From BHA News, Fall 2003, XIII, No. 3