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Opinions aplenty as first of public Pier input sessions begins

St. Petersburg native and active Air Force veteran, Quentin Richardson discusses his idea for a new downtown Pier during a community roundtable discussion at Child's Park Recreation Center on Thursday evening, June 19, 2014. Richardson told the crowd they could find more details about his plan on Facebook by searching Sunshine City Pier.
BOYZELL HOSEY  |  Times

St. Petersburg native and active Air Force veteran, Quentin Richardson discusses his idea for a new downtown Pier during a community roundtable discussion at Child's Park Recreation Center on Thursday evening, June 19, 2014. Richardson told the crowd they could find more details about his plan on Facebook by searching Sunshine City Pier. BOYZELL HOSEY | Times

ST. PETERSBURG — Quentin Richardson showed the images on his laptop, his idea of the city's next Pier, shaped like a ship's mast and with a lighthouse on top.

"I took everything that people loved about the old Pier and modernized it, so function doesn't change, form does," the 29-year-old staff sergeant on leave from the Air Force said Thursday night at Childs Park Recreation Center.

But the St. Petersburg native was somewhat ahead of Mayor Rick Kriseman's new Pier process. Thursday was the launch of a series of public input sessions meant to figure out what residents want at a new or refurbished Pier.

Speaking to the small, racially diverse crowd gathered to record their preferences on sheets of paper, Kriseman said he really doesn't care what the next Pier looks like, only for residents to be "very clear about how we want this to work."

So about four dozen people pored over a wish list, from an amphitheater to water taxis and more than two dozen other features, to rank their preferences and add their own suggestions.

Scott Campbell arrived early.

"I want it to be a place to fish, to get a hamburger, to dance and that's it … and facilities," the 60-year-old retiree said. "I want people to be able to drive around. No swimming and boating and all that silly stuff. No expensive restaurants."

Frederick Winters, 72, a former city sanitation worker and union president, wants a place to fish and a restaurant like Bahama Breeze Island Grille in Tampa.

"I would like to see a larger footprint. I think the Pier is too small. I think they are going to spend too much money on the Pier approach and not on the Pier itself," he said. "I want to see a people mover, like at Disney."

Phil Secord also wants a restaurant, but he would like to see the Pier offer rentals for water sports.

"The idea of a Ferris wheel, it certainly would look cool," he said. "The whole thing is to do it right and do it once. When you want something to last 50 to 75 years, you want to do it right."

Kriseman, who stopped at tables as people spoke animatedly, said he was pleased with the turnout on a stormy night.

"This tells me that people still care and they are still interested in providing input," he said.

A number of his 21-member working group, responsible for the public feedback phase, were on hand. The list of 30 possible amenities was drawn primarily from the 2010 Pier Advisory Task Force report and a scientific poll conducted late last year. Residents' choices will serve as a guide to architects hoping to design the next Pier. This is the fourth attempt in recent years to learn what is most wanted.

"This is it," Kriseman said. "This is the last chance. We are not going to do this again. We are going to move forward, and we're going to get this thing built."

The next public meeting is 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N.

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at wmoore@tampabay.com.

Opinions aplenty as first of public Pier input sessions begins 06/19/14 [Last modified: Thursday, June 19, 2014 11:24pm]

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