Tuesday, January 16, 2018
News Roundup

St. Petersburg Pier to become debris pile during demolition

ST. PETERSBURG — Time is running out for residents and tourists to shop, eat or stroll at the Pier. The inverted pyramid, where memories have been made by millions since 1973, will soon head to a dump.

Expect the Pier to resemble a war zone a few months after it closes on Memorial Day.

Fences will encase the building, cranes will go up, and barges will surround it like toy boats in a bathtub. The five-story behemoth will become a mountain of debris when the wrecking balls fly.

"It's coming down," said St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster, who doesn't want to use any more taxpayer money to subsidize the building's operation.

But none of that can happen — yet.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have not approved the demolition permits for the Pier or building permits for its planned replacement, called the Lens. But approval could come as soon as the city responds to the agencies' requests for more information.

In late March, regulators asked the city to revise drawings for seabeds and proposed water points for turbid water discharge. The "permitting decision will likely be made upon receipt of the response to this third request for information," the letter said.

In September, St. Petersburg filed for a joint permit with both agencies to demolish the pyramid. No other state or federal permits are needed. Demolition is expected to cost $4.5 million.

Downtown residents won't see a made-for-television implosion when the Pier comes down because dynamite can't be used for environmental reasons.

Crews will have to balance safety by limiting the amount of heavy equipment on the Pier approach and concrete base. Once the building is gone, workers will remove more than 1,500 pilings, which are 24 inches wide, by cutting them off below the mud line.

To save money, the city plans to recycle 15,000 cubic yards of concrete — about 50 million pounds — by reusing it to shore up the sea wall around Albert Whitted Airport.

The debris will be moved by barge and is enough to fill 2,000 large rigs.

Chris Ballestra, the city's managing director of development coordination, believes the process could take three months, but said engineers have budgeted five in case problems arise.

"The target is to have it done by late December or early January," he said.

What, if anything, will rise in the Pier's place remains the subject of contentious debate.

Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg, which opposes the new $50 million pier called the Lens, says it has the required signatures for a public vote to try to halt the project.

Meanwhile, the City Council will hold a public workshop Thursday to discuss the opposition's technical concerns about the Lens and to discuss the latest referendum challenge.

The workshop comes before a May 2 council vote to approve another million-dollar payment to the lead architect.

Regulators also requested construction drawings that provide paving, grading and drainage information and details for the development in the upland portion of the Lens project.

If the Lens is derailed, the decision would not impact the city's ability to demolish the existing Pier, said Terri Behling, a Swiftmud spokeswoman.

Once approved, the building permits are good for five years, she said, and could be modified if the city decides to build something else.

Mark Puente can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8459. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/markpuente.

Comments
Career Q&A: What to do when your boss is stealing

Career Q&A: What to do when your boss is stealing

Q: I strongly suspect that my boss is stealing from our employer. As the property manager for this apartment complex, she handles all payments, deposits and other financial matters.A few weeks ago, I accidentally discovered some suspicious discrepanc...
Updated: 1 hour ago

St. Pete officer suspended for month after pushing concert guard

ST. PETERSBURG ó A police officer was suspended for a month after he pushed a security guard at a summer concert in Tampa, according to St. Petersburg police.It could have been worse: Chief Tony Holloway determined Officer Curtis Wright could have be...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Women speak out on abuse by Nassar; Nationís first Sikh attorney general confirmed; more in U.S. news

Women speak out on abuse by Nassar; Nationís first Sikh attorney general confirmed; more in U.S. news

Updated: 3 hours ago
In major shift, House bill would turn three USF universities into one

In major shift, House bill would turn three USF universities into one

Separate accreditation has long been a point of pride and a stamp of independence for the St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee branches of the University of South Florida.Graduates of those schools frame diplomas bearing the name of their own universi...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Video captures basketball game between kids, St. Petersburg officers

Video captures basketball game between kids, St. Petersburg officers

ST. PETERSBURG ó Teamwork wins games, they say. And basketball can bridge gaps.Thatís what makes the Facebook video of three St. Petersburg police officers playing a game of pickup in the street against three kids so compelling. The officers, who wer...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Top Hillsborough teaching honor goes to a Lewis Elementary educator

Top Hillsborough teaching honor goes to a Lewis Elementary educator

TAMPA ó The Hillsborough County Teacher of the Year is a self-described "busy, busy bee" who never tires of exploring new ways to help students learn, even if she has to be creative.At 56, Bonnie Bresnyan also is a mentor for the next generation of s...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Casino boat operator in fatal fire had maintenance, safety issues before earlier blaze

Casino boat operator in fatal fire had maintenance, safety issues before earlier blaze

PORT RICHEY ó The casino boat operator whose shuttle caught fire Sunday, leaving one passenger dead, says it does not know what could have caused the blaze.But federal records show the company, now called Tropical Breeze Casino Cruz, had another boat...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Goodbye 70s. Hello freeze watch. Cold spell headed for Tampa Bay.

Goodbye 70s. Hello freeze watch. Cold spell headed for Tampa Bay.

Did everyone enjoy the cool, sunny weather? Because itís over now.Itís about to get very chilly, Tampa Bay. A rush of arctic air is headed our way, bringing another cold spell. Daytime temperatures will be in the low 60s on Wednesday, but overnight t...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Thanks Twitter: Fakesters pose as jackpot winner Shane Missler

Thanks Twitter: Fakesters pose as jackpot winner Shane Missler

Jackpot winner and Florida man Shane Missler wants to leave behind a legacy with his winnings.But he wonít be doing that by doling out cash to Twitter followers.PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Florida man, 20, claims $450M Mega Millions jackpotAn account cunningl...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Hillsborough County firefighter gets the ax after investigators find ties to motorcycle gang

Hillsborough County firefighter gets the ax after investigators find ties to motorcycle gang

TAMPA ó Hillsborough County officials fired a Fire Rescue medic Tuesday after an internal investigation concluded he had "unwavering loyalty" to the Outlaws Motorcycle Club ó the stateís dominant biker gang.Clinton Neal Walker, 33, of Bradenton is th...
Updated: 4 hours ago