Jamie Bennett adopts POWW referendum on waterfront
ST. PETERSBURG -- City Council member Jamie Bennett has teamed up with a controversial group with ties to his mayoral campaign that is pushing to protect the downtown waterfront.
Bennett said he would support a modified version of a proposed referendum to give voters final say on development along the waterfront. The measure is sponsored by Preserve Our Wallets and Waterfront. One of Bennett's campaign consultants, Peter Schorsch, has been hired by POWW to collect signatures in support of the referendum.
City Hall has mostly ignored POWW's petition until now, deeming it too broad and nearsighted, but Bennett has many friends on the council and his support could give the measure new life.
POWW founder Hal Freedman said the organization is not supporting Bennett or any of the other mayoral candidates.
Here is the press release:
– City Council member Jamie Bennett will introduce a new business item before the City Council calling for a referendum to preserve and protect St. Petersburg’s waterfront. Councilman Bennett, who is also running for mayor, has agreed to adopt the referendum language authored by POWW – Preserve Our Wallets and Waterfront, a citizens group dedicated to stopping major development on the city’s waterfront without a direct vote by residents.
Councilman Bennett will be holding a press conference to outline his vision and to discuss this initiative on Thursday, March 19, at 9:30 a.m. at the Gizella Kopsick Palm Arboretum in North Shore Park located on North Shore Drive at the foot of 10th Avenue NE. Councilman Bennett will be joined by Hal Freedman, chairman of POWW.
"As the city of St. Petersburg prepares to celebrate the centennial of the creation of the first waterfront park," Bennett said, "I can think of no better time than now for the voters of this city to support a referendum forever preserving our beautiful waterfront."
Bennett previously led the effort to save Albert Whitted Airport and is committed to saving, promoting and enhancing the St. Petersburg Pier. "Throughout my tenure in city government, I have worked and will continue to work to protect one of this community’s most important treasures – our cherished waterfront."
-Cristina Silva, Times Staff Writer