Monday, June 18, 2018
News Roundup

Romano: New St. Pete mayor tries to change outcome of pier's future

From all indications, the first-year mayor was excited and confident. And, from the looks of things, he had every right to feel that way.

The city's best and brightest had come together to work on ideas for a new pier in St. Petersburg. Nearly the entire City Council looked to be on board. And the mayor himself made a point of saying the new pier would not only be beautiful, but also functional.

"Rest assured,'' he declared, "the public will be engaged and consulted every step of the way.''

Yup, Bill Foster was the picture of optimism in 2010.

What could possibly go wrong?

• • •

Much has happened, and yet little has changed in the past four years.

Once again, St. Petersburg has a freshman mayor who is working with some familiar faces on yet another blue ribbon pier committee. The public is being invited to participate and architects are being asked to get creative.

So why should this effort be any different?

Mostly, because the last one failed.

This time, the mayor will not underestimate the anger of some residents who felt the City Council prematurely pulled the plug on renovating the inverted pyramid. And he will be cognizant of other residents who felt the aborted Lens design was too caught up in aesthetics and too lax on function.

New Mayor Rick Kriseman will also have the added benefit of an entire city paying closer attention this time around.

The significance of that last point cannot be overemphasized. And it's important that the flow of information goes in both directions.

Residents need to understand that building any type of significant structure above water is not easily, nor cheaply, done. In other words, they may need to accept a scaled-down version of a pier with more emphasis on the uplands that surround the approach.

City officials, on the other hand, need to understand that residents have already made it clear they want something more than a decorative appendage to the waterfront. It can't just be an amenity for bike riders downtown; it has to be an attraction for miles around.

Is all of that possible for the $46 million currently budgeted?

Sure, as long as everyone is realistic.

As long as traditionalists realize they probably will no longer be able to drive their cars on the pier and will instead be walking a shorter span or taking a tram.

As long as city officials realize sticking a gelato stand above the water is not nearly enough to attract people who want real restaurants and bars and, perhaps, nightlife.

As long as everyone realizes strategic development on the uplands can actually enhance the waterfront experience and should not necessarily be feared.

It will also be important that architects get more input up front. The original pier task force did a monumental job of compiling information, but they intentionally avoided offering specific suggestions. Instead, their work served as a broad guide.

That approach encouraged more creativity for architects, but it didn't capture what residents apparently were hoping to see.

So will the process work better this time?

The next mayor sure hopes so.

Comments
Iceland World Cup Fever … catch it!

Iceland World Cup Fever … catch it!

TAMPA — Iceland isn't what it used to be. Literally. The Nordic island country is shrinking, what with global warming. Iceland's glaciers are getting smaller. If you took all that ice and laid it end to end, well, you clearly have nothing bette...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Where’s the new VA clinic going? Not in the city of New Port Richey

Where’s the new VA clinic going? Not in the city of New Port Richey

NEW PORT RICHEY — The federal government’s search for a home for its new Veterans Administration community outpatient clinic is focusing on the Little Road corridor in west Pasco.Three locations in the running for the VA clinic are identified in the ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Bucs defensive end Will Gholston says ‘no excuse’ for disappointing 2017 season

Bucs defensive end Will Gholston says ‘no excuse’ for disappointing 2017 season

Will Gholston is painfully honest about a 2017 season that wasn't anything close to what he wanted it to be. Ask him about last year, and there are no parentheses in his world to soften what he remembers here."I just played (crappy), completely. That...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Tampa man rescued from near drowning in waters off Whiskey Joe’s

Tampa man rescued from near drowning in waters off Whiskey Joe’s

A Tampa man was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries on Sunday after he was rescued from a near drowning off the shores of Whiskey Joe’s Tampa Bar & Grill, a popular hangout on the beach of the Courtney Campbell Causeway.When police officers a...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Developer Grady Pridgen buys St. Pete’s shuttered Edward White Hospital

Developer Grady Pridgen buys St. Pete’s shuttered Edward White Hospital

ST. PETERSBURG — Edward White Hospital, closed four years ago because of declining revenues, has been sold to developer Grady Pridgen for $2.7 million.Pridgen could not be reached Monday for comment. City officials said he has submitted plans for rem...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Private Florida firm buys Rent-A-Center in $1 billion deal

Private Florida firm buys Rent-A-Center in $1 billion deal

An Orlando private equity firm has purchased lease-to-own business Rent-A-Center in a deal valued at more than $1 billion.Vintage Capital Management put a bid in for the company on Friday: $15 per share, $1 per share above its previous offer. Rent-A-...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Hernando Business Digest for June 22

Business digestBrieflyHOSPITAL RECEIVES AWARD: Oak Hill Hospital in Spring Hill was the recipient of Healthgrades 2018 Patient Safety Excellence Award, a designation that recognizes superior performance of hospitals that have prevented the occurrence...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Fifty years after he disappeared over Laos, remains of Northeast High grad return home

Fifty years after he disappeared over Laos, remains of Northeast High grad return home

ST. PETERSBURG — In November 1969, at a hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, Air Force Capt. James White and his wife Sharon enjoyed their last night out together, dining on hotel room service with family friends Neil and Janet Armstrong.It was four months af...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Tampa police seek driver who struck pedestrian and fled scene

Tampa police seek driver who struck pedestrian and fled scene

TAMPA — Police are seeking the public’s help in locating the driver who fatally struck a pedestrian before fleeing the scene on Sunday night.Police say the driver struck an unidentified woman near the intersection of N Nebraska Avenue and E Linebaugh...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Florida Aquarium continues coral restoration research in Cuba

Florida Aquarium continues coral restoration research in Cuba

At the current rate of restoration work, some estimate it will be 550 years before certain types of coral are removed from the endangered species list."I don’t know if that timeline works for you," Scott Graves, director of the Florida Aquarium’s Cen...
Updated: 3 hours ago