ST. PETERSBURG — Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg, the group fighting to stop construction of the proposed new Pier, plans to hand in more than 20,000 petitions to City Hall on Wednesday.
The group says it has collected more than enough signatures to force a vote to cancel the contract with Michael Maltzan Architecture, designer of the Lens, the planned replacement for the 1973 Pier.
Concerned Citizens says it has timed the submission of the petitions to save the city from having to hold a costly special election. The referendum will coincide with the Aug. 27 mayoral and City Council primaries.
Last week Mayor Bill Foster guaranteed the election date in an email to Concerned Citizens' leader Bud Risser, as long as the petitions are turned in after May 13 and the signatures are verified. Foster said the city clerk will not validate them before May 30. Turning in the petitions starts the clock that would require an election no more than 90 days after they have been verified by the city clerk.
Concerned Citizens' move comes at a critical time. Thursday council members will decide whether to approve another $1.5 million for the $50 million Pier. The anti-Lens group is urging city leaders to postpone a decision until residents have their say at the ballot box.