Saturday, June 23, 2018
Opinion

Make it iconic and fun

Two thoughts on the pier:

Spa Beach Park. This area near the pier should become a major community gathering place with picnic pavilions and a large playground with play equipment, climbing nets, climbing walls and water features. A few years ago, the city built a playground and picnic area at Dell Holmes Park on the north side of Lake Maggiore (probably Florida's largest public playground) that has become one of the city's busiest centers of activity. A similar — perhaps larger — playground and picnic area on Spa Beach Park, connected to the beach, would become a hub for downtown and for families throughout the greater St. Petersburg region.

Pier Selection. A few years ago we set aside $50 million to replace the decayed pilings under the pier road. The pilings under the inverted pyramid do not need to be replaced; therefore the inverted pyramid does not have to be torn down. Any option chosen must come at a cost within the city's capital budget.

Factors to be considered in choosing a path include: (1) having an iconic structure that is graphically used as a symbol for the city; (2) having a fun gathering place that attracts both residents and visitors; and (3) designing a facility that allows the city to reduce its operating subsidy. In my opinion the the Lens design, taking out the amphitheater and large water park, best meets factors 2 and 3; and the existing Pier best meets factor 1.

As Plan A, I would seek a slight redesign of the Lens to create a more iconic look at the pier head — especially the view looking at the pier from the bay. Simultaneously, as Plan B, I would seek a new design that: (i) retains the existing inverted pyramid structure (except the outer first floor — which is on old pilings), (ii) develops a new and more inviting access approach; and (iii) increases the existing pier's strength under factors 2 and 3. The decision is important enough to make sure we have thoroughly considered all options — including retention of the existing pyramid.

I would lean toward Plan A if the iconic look can be established, but retain Plan B as an option to be chosen if a more compelling existing Pier proposal comes together.

Rick Baker served as St. Petersburg's mayor from 2001-10.

Comments
Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Itís hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bayís two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. Thatís the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18