ST. PETERSBURG — The citizens group that will help determine what amenities a new or renovated Pier will offer got down to business Friday.
By the end of its first meeting, the Pier Working Group had affirmed a chairman handpicked by Mayor Rick Kriseman, set a schedule for a second meeting and heard specifics of their duties.
The group's job, Kriseman said, is to give him a single set of recommendations for what the community wants.
"Do they want restaurants? Do they want retail?" Kriseman said, adding that the most difficult part of the task would be to synthesize all the information they get.
Of the 21 members, 14 were present for the lunchtime meeting.
Kriseman suggested Peter Clark as chairman, touting his knowledge of business, environmental and climate issues. Clark is the founder of Tampa Bay Watch, a habitat restoration, protection and education program.
Fellow environmentalist Lorraine Margeson said she was concerned that Clark might have a conflict of interest since he had been involved with the Lens, the proposed replacement project rejected by voters last August. Clark later said that city lawyers had assured him that there was no conflict.
Ed Montanari, a pilot who had been vice chairman of the Pier Advisory Task Force, created in 2009, is vice chairman.
The group's recommendations are expected to be key as the city prepares to solicit requests for qualifications from design teams hoping to build a new landmark or refurbish the 1973 inverted pyramid.
The committee's assignment is expected to take 10 weeks and will include a review of the 2010 Pier Advisory Task Force Report and last year's poll that asked residents what a pier should offer.
Margeson, who said she did not think the format and location of the meetings were conducive to soliciting public input, will be part of a five-member subcommittee that will decide how to collect public feedback.
The working group will consider the feasibility of proposed amenities and whether they can get government permits for construction. Members are being asked to categorize suggested amenities into "required" and "optional" and to wrap up their sessions with a report.
Recommendations will have to be considered within the framework of the project's $46 million budget, ongoing operating costs and potential subsidies. An estimated $33 million will remain for construction after demolition, design, construction management, engineering and permitting costs.
The working group's next meeting will be held at 2 p.m. June 4 at City Hall, 175 Fifth St. N, St. Petersburg.
Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2283.