ST. PETERSBURG — More than 100 people turned out in rainy weather Thursday evening for the first public meeting to gather ideas about the $50 million Pier that's set to begin rising on Tampa Bay in 2014.
To some who showed up at the Coliseum, the design by Michael Maltzan Architecture holds few charms. Others praised it and offered ideas for enhancement.
Walt McCanless, 74, was among the more than two dozen people who spoke. He carried a red poster board with photographs of old St. Petersburg landmarks on one side and a diagram of his alternative to the Maltzan design on the other. His version of the Pier would be a simple two-story building with room for people to drive around, shops on the ground floor, a flat roof for viewing and a Golden Corral or an Outback restaurant on the second floor.
Food was a popular topic.
Mayor Bill Foster said if he learned one thing from Thursday' session, it was that people want to have food at the new Pier. Perhaps, he mused, there might be a way to have it brought from the upland.
"We still have a way to go" to educate residents, he said, but added that there are those who seem engaged in the project.
The evening opened with a presentation from city architect Raul Quintana, who explained why the current Pier cannot be renovated. Jason Jensen of Wannemacher Jensen Architects, local partners of the Maltzan team, explained the new Pier, known as the Lens.
At its most basic, the concept features looping bridges, boat slips, a bait shop, underwater garden, viewing areas, a possible gelato stand and a small landside oasis.
Bill Stover was concerned about having a magnet to draw people to the new facility. Steve Westphal, owner of the Hangar Restaurant and Flight Lounge at Albert Whitted Airport, suggested the addition of a water park near Spa Beach.
Gerrie Degrenia, who used a walker to get to one of two microphones, said the design should keep seniors in mind.
"Those of us who are older need some air conditioning. Are there any areas where we could sit, rest for a few minutes and just enjoy? That really has to be put into the mix,'' she said.
Dan Lunin, who also had a walker, said, "I don't know how many of us are going to be able to roll all the way out there and all the way back."
Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 892-2283.