ST. PETERSBURG — Architect Kenneth Kroger agrees that the structural beams that support the approach to the Pier and the plaza around it are deteriorating and must go.
But the Tampa resident doesn't agree that the inverted pyramid should meet the same fate.
He'll explain why tonight at a 6 p.m. meeting organized by a group opposed to tearing down the iconic structure. The group is seeking to force a public vote on the issue.
"It's not the solutions that are important right now; it's the listening to what the community wants," said Kroger, who counts among his projects area car dealerships and an expansion of the post office near Tampa International Airport.
Safety Harbor resident Tom Lambdon, who heads the group voteonthepier.com, said members have collected about 12,000 signatures to force a referendum. He predicts his group will amass the required 15,648 signatures in the next few months.
"We have a very organized effort now,'' he said.
Mayor Bill Foster said he will put the question to voters if the group is successful.
"As long as they are abiding by the rules and the process, that's the American way,'' he said.
The group's efforts could put a spoke in the city's plans. Negotiations began last week with the architects chosen to design the new Pier.
Meanwhile, Kroger says that since the foundation on which the Pier itself stands is structurally sound, he would demolish the surrounding plaza, build a seawall and fill in the area around the existing pyramid foundation to create a new Pier head. As for the Pier approach, he proposes building a new one, but with pilings spaced farther apart than those that are there now, to save money. The cost would be $50 million, the same as the budget set for the new Pier.
Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283.