Saturday, June 16, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: Let's have a blast

Thanks to the sound legal judgment of Florida's 2nd District Court of Appeal, it can finally be said: Mr. Mayor-elect Rick Kriseman — tear down this Pier. • Or perhaps put just a bit more subtly: Suggested schedule for first day in City Hall: a) Take oath of office; b) Kaboom! • The Pier's fate as an urban ruin was set into motion when the 2nd DCA judges rejected an effort by former mayoral candidate, Commodore Kathleen Ford, to prevent the city from imploding the inverted pyramid. That was ostensibly because she wanted to preserve docking space for her fleet, which includes a yacht, nuclear submarine, Swiftboat, kayaks, pocket battleship and a PT 109 reproduction.

With the appellate court upholding an earlier decision by Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Jack Day denying Ford's argument, Kriseman ought to hold a fuse-lighting ceremony in early January. This could be a dynamite opportunity for Kriseman to work with other city and county leaders throughout Tampa Bay to clear out all the aging, creaking, useless, abandoned, architecturally-beyond-redemption edifices across our fair community. There is always a "Lethal Weapon 12" somewhere in preproduction looking for some A-list stuff to blow up.

After the Pier is consigned to that Fred Sanford junk heap in the sky, perhaps the Hillsborough County Commission will be inspired to finally approve blowing up the former Gandy Bridge. The Friendship Trail to nowhere has all the historical significance of a Gasparilla bead. It continues to survive because a small but vocal group of activists have cowed the commission to keep putting off the inevitable. Here are five words of friendly encouragement: Bridge on the River Kwai.

Next up in the demolition derby: Tropicana Field. We should all agree the outdated Trop's days are numbered. The Tampa Bay Rays are going to leave sooner or later. Why not sooner? Why not help things along with a few well-placed powder kegs? You might argue that without a baseball field, where would all the fans sit? About where they are now. At home. The team could lease a Little League baseball field and install some cameras. Problem solved. Altogether now — Fire in the hole!

Now we're cooking.

Perhaps Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn could borrow Kriseman's retired Navy SEALs after they've reduced the inverted pyramid to Dresden-on-the-Bay and turn the Bro Bowl skateboard irritant into the Rubble Bowl.

As a Tampa historic landmark, the Bro Bowl, which is part of Perry Harvey Park, makes the Friendship Trail Bridge look like Monticello. Yet, its supporters oppose its removal as part of an effort to create a Central Avenue memorial to the city's black history as if Buckhorn wants to tear down the Arc de Triomphe.

If former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley could unilaterally literally grind up Meigs Field on the shores of Lake Michigan in the dead of night because he felt like it, how hard should this be for Buckhorn to blow up the Bro Bowl and claim it was the fault of an overheated leaf blower? Ooops. Five, four, three, two … gone.

The saddest for last. The Belleview Biltmore Hotel in Belleair was once the queen of the Gulf Coast -— an elegant, beautiful reminder of another time. But the sprawling wood structure has been closed since 2009, and repeated efforts to save the hotel have come and gone as the building steadily falls deeper into disrepair.

It's time. It should die as it once lived — in a hail of splendor. In return for approving Col. Scott DeThomas' pet project to build on a charter school on MacDill Air Force Base, the Pentagon should agree to drop a couple bunker-buster bombs on the Biltmore. It would be quite a sight.

And just like that, come 2014 St. Petersburg could begin a new social tradition with the first annual Guy Fawkes Parade led by hizzoner, Mayor Molotov Cocktail tossing out the first grenade pin. It will be a blast.

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