Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Arguing and division mark St. Petersburg's efforts to find new pier strategy

ST. PETERSBURG — On Thursday, the City Council publicly discussed the Pier's future for the first time since voters rejected the Lens design last month, and — in what should come as a surprise to no one familiar with politics here — the debate was acrimonious.

Based on recommendations made by the 8/28 Alliance, a group tasked with developing plans on how to move forward with the contentious project, Mayor Bill Foster explained the basics of his strategy.

"First," he said, "we will engage a pretty detailed survey of real people, large samplings."

Officials would then solicit design ideas from architects and use the public feedback to help determine which one a jury ultimately chooses. The mayor also recommended "built-in holding patterns" — scheduled times throughout the process in which the public was resurveyed.

Council member Leslie Curran, chairwoman of the jury that selected the Lens design, seemed disgusted. After saying St. Petersburg had "watched an opportunity evaporate," she asked the mayor how long it would take for a new Pier to be constructed.

"I have no idea as we sit here today as far as putting a time frame on it," Foster said.

He estimated the combined cost for the first two phases to be less than $50,000.

Soon after, Shirley O'Sullivan, a member of the 8/28 Alliance, approached a lectern.

"My biggest fear with this whole process is that we're going to have a Pier sitting out there and deteriorating for some time to come," she told the council. "I just can't help but feel that there's going to be more turmoil and dissension."

And with that — as five TV cameras and two newspaper reporters looked on — came more turmoil and dissension.

Council member Wengay Newton proposed restoring the shuttered inverted pyramid, and he implied that last month's vote was a sign that people supported the idea, which he's expressed dozens of times before.

Council member Bill Dudley corrected Newton, noting that the vote was against the Lens, not in favor of the Pier.

He then questioned the mayor's plan.

"Are we going to just keep voting until we get one that everybody likes?" he asked. "Good luck with that."

Dudley told the council that he's heard the aging Pier might remain untouched for another five years.

"That is not true," Foster said.

Council member Jeff Danner suggested that, if the goal is to build consensus around one design, the result will simply be something that "nobody hates."

Council member Charlie Gerdes supported surveying the community, but recommended a different opening question: "Should we save and refurbish the pyramid within the existing budget — yes or no?"

Foster didn't seem to like that idea. He thought it could be misleading because a renovated Pier would be far different than the old Pier.

Council member Steve Kornell followed with his "major concern" over the proposed process, which he said too closely resembled the one that just failed.

Chairman Karl Nurse said he understood that people were frustrated.

"It's been a long odyssey," he said, "and it didn't work."

But the arguments continued.

Curran spoke again, then Foster and Newton and Kennedy, and on they went until, quietly, a TV camera shut off and its operator slipped out the back door. Others followed and, within moments, the council recessed for a five-minute break and the latest Pier debate ended.

John Woodrow Cox can be reached at jcox@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8472.

Arguing and division mark St. Petersburg's efforts to find new pier strategy 09/05/13 [Last modified: Thursday, September 5, 2013 11:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Observations from a liberal, gay, Latino, feminist Florida House freshman

    Blogs

    State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando,  rocked the Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus dinner at Tallahassee's Hotel Duval Satursday night with his unabashedly liberal and passionate take on the myriad issues he said are key to LGBTQ Floridians. Among them: Access to guns, Reproductive rights, home …

    Carlos G. Smith
  2. Delta Sigma Theta honors outgoing national president

    Human Interest

    During her four years as national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Paulette Walker said she always focused on the comma between "Sorority" and "Inc."

    Paulette Walker, the former director of undergraduate programs and internship in the College of Education at the University of South Florida, will be honored on Saturday for her leadership in the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
  3. 10 sailors missing, 5 hurt in collision of USS John S. McCain

    SEOUL —Ten U.S. Navy sailors are missing and five have been injured after the USS John S. McCain destroyer collided with an oil tanker near Singapore early Monday morning.

    In this Jan. 22, 2017, photo provided by U.S. Navy, the USS John S. McCain patrols in the South China Sea while supporting security efforts in the region. The guided-missile destroyer collided with a merchant ship on Monday, Aug. 21, in waters east of Singapore and the Straits of Malacca. Ten sailors were missing, and five were injured, the Navy said. [James Vazquez/U.S. Navy via AP]
  4. Pasco County Fire Rescue fighting a two-alarm fire started by an explosion

    Fire

    Two houses are on fire and one victim has been critically burned and taken to a trauma center following an explosion at a home at 8652 Velvet Dr, in Port Richey.

  5. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.