Wednesday, November 22, 2017
News Roundup

Another group forms to block Lens plan for new St. Petersburg Pier

RECOMMENDED READING


ST. PETERSBURG — The fight to stop the new Pier continues. A new group, headed by several prominent St. Petersburg residents, held a news conference on the steps of City Hall on Wednesday to launch another effort to halt plans to build the new $50 million Pier known as the Lens.

The group, Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg, timed its announcement hours before Michael Maltzan Architecture was to present a progress report on the project to City Council members today.

"Our goal really in coming out now is to let people know that there is going to be an opportunity for people to pass judgment on the Lens in an effective way," the group's president, William Ballard, said.

A petition drive is being planned, he said.

Key members of the effort include Bud Risser of Risser Oil Corp., restaurateur and investor Dan Harvey, engineer Bud Karins, accountant and former St. Petersburg Yacht Club commodore Skipp Fraser and Fred Whaley, a director at Raymond James.

"Each member of the group has a different reason of why they are active in this," said Ballard, a retired construction and banking lawyer.

"From the moment I saw the Lens design, my conclusion was, whoever drew this up does not understand St. Petersburg or its history and that it is just out of character with our city,'' he said. "Our group will be attempting to make sure that the scientific community in St. Petersburg and possibly the marine industry get active and provide input. We don't know exactly what our role will be."

Whaley, who is chairman of the new organization's board and said he grew up on St. Petersburg's waterfront, spoke on behalf of the group. "We think the voters should have a choice and we think they should have a better choice than the Lens," he said.

The new petition drive will be the second to be launched against the new Pier. The group voteonthepier.com amassed more than 20,000 petitions in an attempt to preserve the current Pier, but City Council members denied the effort to put the issue on the Nov. 6 ballot. Former mayoral candidate and council member Kathleen Ford recently joined the group in a lawsuit against the city.

The new group is taking no position on the 1973 inverted pyramid that serves as the city's Pier. Organizers say they simply do not want the Lens.

Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report.

Comments
What’s in theaters for Thanksgiving: ‘Coco,’ ‘Last Flag Flying,’ ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’

What’s in theaters for Thanksgiving: ‘Coco,’ ‘Last Flag Flying,’ ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’

NOW IN THEATERS:COCODisney-Pixar’s animated dramedy Coco (PG) is inspired by Mexico’s annual Dia de los Muertos, the "day of the dead" when departed ancestors are celebrated. Good for diversity, although the movie isn’t as good as its intentions.Migu...
Updated: 2 minutes ago
Future of Hernando Beach water tower up in the air

Future of Hernando Beach water tower up in the air

HERNANDO BEACH — Perched high above the coastal neighborhood, the water tower at Hernando Beach has been a unique watchman and highly visible welcome sign for drivers and boaters although it has not held water for years.Now there is some question abo...
Updated: 27 minutes ago
Details emerge in suicide of Hernando school volunteer accused of sexual abuse

Details emerge in suicide of Hernando school volunteer accused of sexual abuse

A former Brooksville school volunteer accused of sexually assaulting teenage foreign exchange students who were under his care was found dead last week, a day before he was due in court on the charges.The body of Bruce McAllister was found at the bas...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pasco students score big at Junior Thespian Festival

Pasco students score big at Junior Thespian Festival

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco schools brought home 20 top honors from the District 11 Junior Thespian Festival, which included 22 schools from Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Manatee counties and took place at the new River Ridge FAME Academy on Nov. 17 and ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Updated: 1 hour ago

Updated: 1 hour ago
University of Tampa volleyball finds playoff form in time

University of Tampa volleyball finds playoff form in time

TAMPA — Earning an NCAA Tournament bid is usually not cause for celebration with the University of Tampa volleyball program. It has become routine.But after hitting the abyss of a 3-10 record, after players felt their confidence was shot, after coach...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Howard Altman: SS American Victory will host cruise to mark Pearl Harbor Day

Howard Altman: SS American Victory will host cruise to mark Pearl Harbor Day

Looking for a unique way to commemorate Pearl Harbor Day and celebrate the military’s nautical traditions?Check out the SS American Victory, which will set sail Dec. 2. for a two-hour cruise at 1:30 p.m.Registration will begin at noon to ride the car...
Updated: 1 hour ago
TreeUmph! navigates its own obstacle course in opening Brooksville location

TreeUmph! navigates its own obstacle course in opening Brooksville location

BROOKSVILLE — The point behind the adventure park east of Brooksville is for visitors to challenge themselves to overcome obstacles to gain a sense of personal achievement.For the owners of the tree-top adventure course known as TreeUmph!, the road t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Brian Setzer talks about Tom Petty, ‘The Simpsons’ and his third act with holiday music

Brian Setzer talks about Tom Petty, ‘The Simpsons’ and his third act with holiday music

Brian Setzer knows he’s overdue for a trip to Florida. For 13 years, the Grammy-winning rockabilly guitarist and big-band frontman has been packing theaters coast to coast for his annual Christmas Rocks Tour. But somehow, he keeps skipping this area....
Updated: 1 hour ago