Wednesday, June 20, 2018
News Roundup

Committee proposes reopening Pier while studying its future

ST. PETERSBURG — What would it cost to reopen the inverted pyramid that the city closed amid much fanfare and anguish barely six weeks ago?

That's the question being asked by a committee appointed recently by Mayor Bill Foster to address the fate of the city's downtown waterfront landmark, whether it be the old Pier, the proposed Lens or some other project.

At its second meeting Monday, members of the mayor's 828 Alliance decided to ask city staffers to find out what it would cost to reopen the darkened Pier on a limited basis to offer services such as a bait shop — fishing is being allowed along the Pier approach — restrooms and perhaps a bit of food and drink.

That was a new wrinkle raised by the group Foster has charged with cutting through the rancor of the Pier debate and devising a way forward, no matter the outcome of the Aug. 27 referendum that could cancel the contract to replace the Pier with the Lens.

"If the Lens fails, there's no point in it sitting there with no activity whatever," said Shirley O'Sullivan, an alliance member and staunch Lens supporter, after Monday's meeting. "I see no point, however, in opening a major part of the building because of electricity, water and hiring a manager."

The motion to reopen the old Pier was made by Fred Whaley, chairman of Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg, the anti-Lens group behind August's referendum. Whaley is also the newly named co-chair of the alliance along with Ed Montanari, who served as vice chair of the Pier Advisory Task Force that eventually led to the controversial Lens design.

"The city has complained that we are going to be a long time without a Pier and, actually, if we started construction today, it would be awhile before we have a (new) Pier," Whaley said. "It just shows that the city cares about the public to keep it open on a limited basis until such time the Pier is rebuilt or replaced."

Foster, who had vowed that the inverted pyramid would be demolished, has also said the alliance could consider saving it. He could not be reached for comment Monday about the committee's discussion.

Council member Leslie Curran, who described the alliance as Foster's "failed attempt at re-election," said the group was "a little off kilter" in asking about reopening the inverted pyramid.

"I don't think that was at all what the mayor's intention for that committee was," said Curran, a Lens supporter. "I think what we need to do is to wait for the outcome of the Aug. 27 referendum and decide what we should have at that point."

Monday's meeting also dealt with how the group, made up of experts in marine science, architecture, business, finance and urban planning, should proceed with its task. Lawyer and mediator Raleigh "Lee" Greene suggested they start with the basics and asked the committee to study the Pier task force's 2010 report and identify and narrow areas of disagreement before the next meeting, July 25.

Greene's job will likely be difficult, as both those for and against the Lens make up the alliance. During the meeting, O'Sullivan tried to shield her face so she wouldn't be recorded by a Lens supporter who was attending the public meeting.

"I don't like a camera pointed at me," she said.

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283.

Comments
For starters: Rays at Astros, with a different look

For starters: Rays at Astros, with a different look

UPDATE, 6:43: Cash said the key to how the pieced the lineup together was the opportunity to give Cron (who is struggling) and Duffy (who is doing well) back to back days off. … Looking ahead to the weekend, the Rays will use RHP Ryne Stanek as...
Updated: 18 minutes ago
Hillsborough commissioners approve referendum on making county officers non-partisan

Hillsborough commissioners approve referendum on making county officers non-partisan

TAMPA — The debate over whether "Rep" or "Dem" should be on the ballot alongside the name of candidates for sheriff or property appraiser is now in the hands of Hillsborough County voters.Hillsborough County commissioners voted 5-2 Wednesday to hold ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Seminole Heights restaurant Mortar & Pestle files for bankruptcy reorganization

Seminole Heights restaurant Mortar & Pestle files for bankruptcy reorganization

TAMPA — Mortar & Pestle, a fledgling Seminole Heights eatery with a mom-and-pop pharmacy theme, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. Seacoast Bank was listed as the creditor with the largest unsecured claim: $1.4 million.The restaurant...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Column: It’s time for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to process concealed weapons licenses

It is hard to believe that the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs didn’t discover for a year that an employee could not log into an account needed to see results of background checks that examined, among other things, whether applicants f...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Column: I survived a suicide attempt and here’s what you should know

Column: I survived a suicide attempt and here’s what you should know

Twenty-five years ago, I was a reporter at WTSP-TV, out in the field covering Tampa Bay’s Independence Day celebrations. I expected an easy assignment talking about families and fireworks. Then the newsroom called with an urgent message: I needed to ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
15 arrested in Hillsborough construction fraud sting, one for the eighth time

15 arrested in Hillsborough construction fraud sting, one for the eighth time

TAMPA — The contractors arriving at the Brandon home thought they were meeting with a potential customer. They were wrong.In fact, the would-be clients were undercover detectives and the contractors, lacking a license to ply their trade, left the hom...
Updated: 3 hours ago
As Border Patrol searches its buses, Greyhound is pulled into immigration uproar

As Border Patrol searches its buses, Greyhound is pulled into immigration uproar

He was a 12-year Miami resident originally from Trinidad, taken off a Greyhound bus in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, by U.S. Border Patrol agents in January.She was a 60-something Jamaican national who had just met her granddaughter for the first time, w...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Phil Mickelson apologizes four days after hitting moving ball at U.S. Open

Phil Mickelson apologizes four days after hitting moving ball at U.S. Open

NEW YORK — Phil Mickelson has apologized four days after intentionally violating golf rules by hitting a moving ball on the green at the U.S. Open, saying his frustration got the best of him. The apology came Wednesday in a statement released by his ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Could Lucky’s Market move in to Clearwater’s old Albertsons?

Could Lucky’s Market move in to Clearwater’s old Albertsons?

Lucky’s Market is considering a move in to the old Albertsons box space in Clearwater, according to preliminary plans filed with the city. Lucky’s master broker, Rick Lewellyn, was listed on an agenda as discussing renovating the existing property wi...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Couple leased someone else’s home to 12 families at same time, Largo police say

Couple leased someone else’s home to 12 families at same time, Largo police say

LARGO — At least 12 families leased the same Largo home at the same time and lost as much as $4,300 each in a fraud scheme run by a couple who portrayed themselves as owners of the property, Largo police said.Police learned of the scheme Tuesday afte...
Updated: 4 hours ago