Sunday, December 17, 2017
News Roundup

St. Petersburg gauging residents to see what they want in new pier

ST. PETERSBURG — The city is gathering feedback from residents on what kind of pier should be built on the waterfront.

A survey open to all residents is now on the city's website at www.stpete.org; 1,000 already have been surveyed by phone.

The idea to gauge the opinions of residents came on the heels of voters' rejection of the Lens, which had been picked to replace the shuttered inverted pyramid.

The telephone survey's results are expected in two weeks, said Chris Ballestra, the city's managing director of development coordination. Those results will be kept separate from the results of the online survey, which is expected to continue through the end of the year, he said.

Mayor Bill Foster, who lost his bid for a second term to Mayor-elect Rick Kriseman, had proposed a survey to get public input on what should happen next.

Kriseman, who will take office on Jan. 2, said he will use the results of the phone survey, but "would like to reach out to the public some more."

"We'll revisit putting together a very short-term task force, taking the original task force recommendations and compiling them into a new set of recommendations," he said. "At that point, we will know programmatically what the community wants."

Kriseman said he is also waiting to get feedback from his transition team, which is also delving into the thorny pier issue.

"Our goal is within three months of taking office to have the final task force recommendations and within nine months to try and have some designs to consider, so that within a year, we will have selected a design," Kriseman said.

The telephone survey, conducted by Opinion Works of Annapolis, Md., asked residents how often they had visited the inverted pyramid in the past three years and asked about the subsidy it required.

After the survey noted that the subsidy "averaged $1.4 million per year over the last 12 years and is paid from the city's general fund," respondents were asked whether "as a goal going forward" the subsidy should be increased, decreased or stay the same.

Another question asked whether the 1973 inverted pyramid should be saved, even if doing so exceeded the existing construction budget and required a tax increase and "a significant annual operating subsidy."

Residents also were asked about their desire for attractions such as restaurants and shops at a new pier and whether those facilities should be on the pier or on adjacent waterfront land.

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

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