Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Stop the Lens wants to be clear: it's not voteonthepier.com

Stop the Lens by Concerned Citizens seeks an ordinance to kill the Lens contract. It wants voters to know it’s not voteonthepier.com.

DIRK SHADD | Times (2012)

Stop the Lens by Concerned Citizens seeks an ordinance to kill the Lens contract. It wants voters to know it’s not voteonthepier.com.

ST. PETERSBURG — The men behind the second of two petitions targeting the city's Pier project are straining to distinguish themselves from the other guys — even as they share a common goal.

First, they're not the ones with the lawsuit. And the upside-down pyramid that thousands of St. Petersburg residents say they want to save? That's not their battle.

Talk to leaders of Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg and they'll firmly declare that their focus is on blocking plans for the Lens, the controversial, would-be replacement of the inverted pyramid.

Further, they'll tell you, the Lens, with its showy double bridges and vaulting crown, is out of place on the waters that lap their beloved St. Petersburg, where they have sailed for decades.

Why is the distinction important?

The problem is, while Concerned Citizens is trying to galvanize the masses to sign its petition to "Stop the Lens," 15,652 people have already committed to an earlier Pier petition that has been in the news for a lawsuit that attempted to drag every one of the signers — many unwillingly —- into a court battle.

The fear, said Bud Risser of Concerned Citizens, is that residents will pair the petition with the lawsuit and run for cover. So, the group, with its iconic red circle crossing out an image of the Lens, is about to kick off an ad campaign to clear up misconceptions.

"We want that ad out there to eliminate the confusion, to remind people of the fact that this is all about having a vote on what goes on the waterfront," said William Ballard, president of Concerned Citizens.

Perhaps more important, the organization wants to relay the message that its anti-Lens petition has a good chance of success.

The earlier effort, spearheaded by the group voteonthepier.com, failed to get the City Council to put a question on the ballot, which led to the lawsuit.

Whereas the voteonthepier.com petition ran into snags, even city officials concede that Concerned Citizens is on the right track. As part of its painstaking mobilization, the anti-Lens group hired a lawyer versed in municipal law to make sure that if they collect the required number of signatures, City Council members will have no choice but to put their Pier question to the vote.

City Attorney John Wolfe had advised the council that it had no legal obligation to hold a referendum in voteonthepier's case. The city's charter, Wolfe said, addresses petitions only for a proposed ordinance or repeal of an ordinance, and state law refers to petitions only in relation to changing a charter.

Concerned Citizens' petition proposes an ordinance that would terminate the city's contract with Michael Maltzan Architecture, designers of the Lens.

"If the Stop the Lens group gets sufficient signatures, the council will then have to consider the ordinance they have proposed," Chief assistant city attorney Mark Winn said.

That would mean either choosing to adopt the ordinance or committing it to a public vote.

Meanwhile, the anti-Lens group is attempting to gather the required petitions. It has lined up locations, including UPS stores, Gold's Gym, Rent-a-Centers, a couple of liquor stores and its own office at 944 Fourth St. N, for people to sign petitions available at those sites or received by mail.

The group is revising its direct-mail piece to try to "enhance the returns," Risser said.

"Our test mailing suggested to us that people were confused by the two petitions and that fear of becoming involved in a lawsuit was probably keeping people from signing our petition," Ballard said.

"We realized we really have to get our message out."

But for diehard opponents in both groups against the city's plan for a new $50 million Pier, that message is inconsequential.

"We do have one thing in common," Risser said.

"All we want is a vote. You can vote on saving the Pier, or you can vote on stopping the Lens. If they had chosen a design that had captured the emotions of St. Petersburg, it would have been a done deal."

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at wmoore@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2283.

fast facts

Pier schedule

May 31: Closing

Late summer: Demolition

Early 2014: Construction begins

Mid 2015: Lens opens

Stop the Lens wants to be clear: it's not voteonthepier.com 01/19/13 [Last modified: Friday, January 18, 2013 7:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. ICYMI: Florida education news in review, week of July 16, 2017

    Blogs

    Seems like Broward County has started a domino effect. It was the first school board to commit to filing a lawsuit against the state and its controversial education bill, House Bill 7069. Then, the St. Lucie County School Board signed on, too. A running tally of school boards that have reportedly expressed interested in …

    Kali Davis (left), training director for Springboard to Success, helps to coach Justin Black (center), who will be starting his third year of teaching PE at Melrose Elementary, as he works to instruct students in a math lesson during the Spring Board program of Summer Bridge at Woodlawn Elementary School in St. Petersburg.
  2. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  3. Kushner to testify before two intelligence committees

    Politics

    WASHINGTON— President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is set to make a second appearance on Capitol Hill — he will speak with the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, one day after he is scheduled to speak with Senate Intelligence Committee investigators behind closed doors.

    White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is scheduled to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee. [Associated Press]
  4. Rays blow lead in ninth, lose in 10 to Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Rays manager Kevin Cash liked the way Alex Cobb was competing Friday night. He liked the way the hard contact made by the Rangers batters went away after the second or third inning. So as the game headed toward the ninth, there was no doubt in Cash's mind that sending Cobb back to the mound was …

    Rays starter Alex Cobb can hardly believe what just happened as he leaves the game in the ninth after allowing a leadoff double then a tying two-run homer to the Rangers’ Shin-Soo Choo.
  5. Exhumation of Dalí's remains finds his mustache still intact

    World

    FIGUERES, Spain — Forensic experts in Spain have removed hair, nails and two long bones from Salvador Dalí's embalmed remains to aid a court-ordered paternity test that may enable a woman who says she is the surrealist artist's daughter to claim part of Dalí's vast estate.

    Salvador Dal? died in 1989 leaving vast estate.