Friday, April 20, 2018
News Roundup

Poll: pier is St. Petersburg residents' top issue — but they lack answers

ST. PETERSBURG — Heated emotions about what kind of pier should rise on the city's cherished waterfront ignited two petitions, a lawsuit and a referendum that unequivocally rejected a controversial design.

A majority of residents may now have settled on what should happen next: scuttle the closed inverted pyramid and erect something new. What that new pier will look like is a battle for another day.

According to a Tampa Bay Times, Bay News 9 and WUSF Public Media poll, 58 percent of those surveyed want city officials to choose a new pier design — with public input — and build a pier within the originally allotted $50 million budget. Only 31 percent favored saving the iconic pyramid at an estimated cost of $70 million. Ten percent were unsure what should happen next and 1 percent declined to answer.

"I wasn't too crazy about the inverted pyramid," said Lynn Colt, 68, a former legal secretary.

Lauren Chamberlain, whose family has lived in St. Petersburg since 1912, feels differently about the structure that city officials have said would be too costly to repair. "I think it should be left alone, restored," said Chamberlain, 50. "It's a landmark."

Braun Research surveyed 809 registered voters in St. Petersburg who said they would definitely or probably vote in the Nov. 5 mayoral elections. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Respondents ranked building a new pier highest among the issues facing the city's next leader. That was ahead of public safety, redevelopment in the city's struggling Midtown community and stadium negotiations with the Rays.

That did not surprise either Mayor Bill Foster or Rick Kriseman, his challenger in the upcoming mayoral race.

"People want to see that we will still have a pier. It's a 100-year-old tradition," Foster said. "I can put their minds at ease. We are going to have a pier and it will involve a great amount of public input throughout the process."

"The waterfront is really what sets us apart from so many other cities in Florida," said Kriseman, and a pier is its signature component.

He also attributed the ranking of the issue to the closeness of the poll to the mayor's announcement of his new plans for the pier, which will include public input and information from the 2010 Pier Advisory Task Force report.

"I see a lot of the same elements in what he was proposing that didn't work before" and people are concerned, Kriseman said.

Black respondents were less concerned about a new pier, giving a higher priority to improvements in Midtown and public safety, in that order. Council Chairman Karl Nurse, who represents a large section of the African-American community, was not surprised.

"When you are in some of the Midtown neighborhoods, focusing on the pier seems frivolous," he said.

Asked how he would balance such differing concerns across the city, Kriseman said "you have to be able to juggle a lot of issues."

Foster responded similarly. "The beauty of what mayors do is we are not focused on any one single challenge," he said. "They are all important."

Black respondents were split between building a new pier for under $50 million — in actuality, Foster said about $45 million remains of the pier fund — and supporting renovation of the old Pier for millions more. White respondents were much less likely to want renovation.

Delores Atkinson, 57, who is African-American and lives in Lakewood Estates, supports renovation. "I think we could restore this Pier without the cost they are claiming it to be," she said.

She reflected what Nurse described as "a fair degree of skepticism" citywide about estimated renovation costs.

The poll surveyed 475 white residents, with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points, and 268 black residents, with a margin of error of plus or minus 6 points.

The inverted pyramid, closed in May, was supposed to make way for the Lens, a design that drew widespread derision. The project was defeated in an August referendum. Foster has promised a new pier by 2017. He is, though, planning a poll that will ask residents about renovating the inverted pyramid.

Renovation would be a waste of money, said Eden Isle resident Peter Dawson, 79.

Jeremy West, 35, treasurer of the Libertarian Party of Pinellas County, has other ideas. Turn the pier over to a private concern that would build and operate the landmark and transfer it back to the city after 25 years, he said.

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

Comments
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Bucs have a tough start to their schedule

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Bucs have a tough start to their schedule

The NFL did the Bucs no favors with their 2018 schedule, Rick Stroud says, making them open at New Orleans, followed by home games against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh Plus, linebacker Kendall Beckwith had surgery to repair a broken ankle, p...
Updated: 6 minutes ago

Suspect in custody after Ocala school shooting

A person is in custody following a shooting at Ocala Forest High School on Friday morning.According to the Marion County Sheriffís Office, one person is being treated for undisclosed injuries.The nature of the shooting was not immediately known.This ...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Pinellas detention deputy fired for using racial slur

Pinellas detention deputy fired for using racial slur

LARGO ó Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri fired a detention deputy Friday after an internal investigation found he used a racial slur to describe black inmates.A fellow Pinellas County Jail deputy reported Jorge Lopez, 30, after he repeatedly used the s...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Portion of I-75 reopens in Sarasota after smoke settles over road

Portion of I-75 reopens in Sarasota after smoke settles over road

SARASOTA ó A 10-mile stretch of southbound Interstate 75 has reopened in Sarasota County, after it was shut down earlier Friday morning due to smoke in the road.According to broadcast reports, the smoke was caused by a a prescribed burn in the area ...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Q&A: Walmart leader chats about Florida stores, and the chainís latest retail strategy

Q&A: Walmart leader chats about Florida stores, and the chainís latest retail strategy

The Tampa Bay Times recently sat down with Walmart director of corporate communications Phillip Keene to chat about the retail giantís latest retail strategies and how the company is winning over customers in a competitive market.Already, two of the ...
Updated: 20 minutes ago
Former Ohio State, University of Tampa coach Earle Bruce dies

Former Ohio State, University of Tampa coach Earle Bruce dies

Former Ohio State football coach Earle Bruce, whose nine-year tenure in Columbus was came after one season as coach of the University of Tampa's now-defunct program, passed away earlier this morning at age 87.Mr. Bruce reportedly had been battling Al...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Raysí Chris Archer ready to move past messy outing tonight against Twins

Raysí Chris Archer ready to move past messy outing tonight against Twins

Rays RHP Chris Archer goes into tonight's start against the Twins with no trouble moving on from his messy Saturday performance against the Phillies that included arguably the worst inning of his career."It's already gone," Archer said Wednesday...
Updated: 28 minutes ago
Memorable off day for Raysí Ryan Yarbrough

Memorable off day for Raysí Ryan Yarbrough

Rays rookie LHP Ryan Yarbrough has enjoyed everything about his first major-league experience, from pitching in the games to traveling in top-notch style to getting to play in front of family and friends to seeing his first paycheck.And then the Lake...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Suspect in Gilchrist deputiesí slayings has Tampa Bay ties

Suspect in Gilchrist deputiesí slayings has Tampa Bay ties

The man identified as the suspect who fatally shot two Gilchrist County deputies in a restaurant Thursday afternoon before taking his own life has ties to the Tampa Bay area.Deputies say John Hubert Highnote, 59, of Bell ó who was found dead outside ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Forecast: Scattered showers could dampen weekend plans across Tampa Bay

Forecast: Scattered showers could dampen weekend plans across Tampa Bay

Scattered showers and thunderstorms could pester Tampa Bay throughout the weekend, culminating in a peak chance of rain early next week.A small cold front will meander over the bay area by Friday afternoon but should have little affect on the area, t...
Updated: 3 hours ago