ST. PETERSBURG — A day after voters soundly defeated the Lens, the focus has shifted to what should replace the much-maligned ultramodern design that was slated to replace the inverted pyramid Pier on the downtown waterfront.
Members of Mayor Bill Foster's 8/28 Alliance — so named to correspond to the date after Tuesday's vote — will formally present its recommendations for moving forward at a 4 p.m. meeting today.
Other issues, however, will come into play in coming months. Defeated mayoral candidate Kathleen Ford wants to save the inverted pyramid pier and has filed an appeal to save the 1973 structure. The city also is awaiting a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to demolish the closed pier.
Apprehension is also growing about how long it will take to get a new pier.
"It's going to start all over again," said Roland Martino, 40, owner of the Beach Drive Inn Bed and Breakfast, who supported the Lens.
"I think a lot of people are just misinformed about it," he said, adding that it would cost more than the Lens' $50 million budget to renovate the inverted pyramid.
Meanwhile, the mayor's alliance will center its recommendations for a new pier on building broad support among residents for whatever design is proposed next. The group will suggest that the city begin with a modified form of the request for qualifications process and incorporate information from the Pier Advisory Task Force, a group that made its own recommendations for the waterfront landmark in 2010. Lens detractors had said that the rejected design ignored the task force's suggestions.
The alliance will call for soliciting ideas from the public and suggest that professionally qualified residents be teamed with city staff to review qualifications of potential pier designers. Final review and ranking of architects would be done by a jury made up of members of the city administration, outside professionals and five citizens. The firm ranked highest would be awarded a schematic design contract, but a full contract would be dependant on approval by city officials and residents.
"I believe if citizens are involved in the process from the beginning, we will get a far better product and that citizens will be willing to accept the ultimate result," said Bud Risser, of Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg, the group behind the referendum that will force cancellation of the contract with Lens designer Michael Maltzan.
Alliance co-chair Ed Montanari, a supporter of the failed Lens and former vice president of the Pier Advisory Task Force, is ready to mend fences with those who defeated the project.
"I know a lot of the people on the other side and they love the city just as much as the people who like the Lens," he said.
"I think the mayor came up with a great idea to bring this city together and let's work together to create a pier that the whole city can be proud of."
Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283.