Over the last few months, I have heard many comments about pier possibilities, from: Keep the Pier as is, build a new pier with a more traditional look and, Do we need a pier?
Let's pause a moment and look at recent history. Citizens have voted to keep Sunken Gardens, the Coliseum and Albert Whitted Airport. In the mid 1980s, they defeated 2-to-1 a Pier Park proposal that would have added a festival market place on the landside approach. What were the citizens saying here? My interpretation is that they liked our history and world-class uncluttered waterfront. I doubt very much that the old Mediterranean-style pier would be torn down today.
Have we changed that much? In some ways we have. Just look at Beach Drive and you get the idea. Any radically different pier should still fit in certain parameters. It should be accessible; it is too far out. It doesn't need to clutter the landside; remember the referendum. It should be affordable and completed in one phase in a timely fashion.
Do any of the three finalists meet these characteristics? Not exactly. I wish that one had been required to be more traditional so we could have seen the difference and would have had a choice.
I have been asked, however, to comment on the three selected designs. My choice would be the Wave. It will certainly become iconic. It appears do-able and if brought in, accessible, and will not clutter the landside. Remember, we already have one of the world's most beautiful waterfronts. Don't mess it up.
David Fischer served as St. Petersburg's mayor from 1991-2001.