Friday, April 20, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Renovating Pier remains questionable

To fans of St. Petersburg's current Pier, the results of an engineering evaluation of the inverted pyramid's structural integrity sounds like good news. Consultants said the building appears to have suffered limited corrosion and could be brought up to a dramatically tougher building code with significant changes, including likely closing the first floor. But what is possible and what is reasonable are two different things, particularly when talking about a taxpayer-financed project and a 40-year-old facility that never lived up to its potential even after its first floor was expanded. Keeping and renovating the current Pier remains a dubious proposition.

The city released last week the results of a $30,000 engineering report, the most comprehensive examination of what might be required to save the inverted pyramid. One of the building's biggest fans, engineer Frank Carter "Bud" Karins, helped the city write the scope of the report. But three Tampa Bay engineering firms did the work, examining the building's steel structure, including removing concrete in spots to view corrosion and test for saltwater and chloride intrusion. They found the building probably could be rehabilitated, but with significant caveats:

• The engineers noted that any major renovation would require the facility to comply with current building code — which is far more demanding than it was in 1973 when the inverted pyramid was built. Lower levels of the building would have to demonstrate the capacity to carry more than twice the wind load required in 1973. The engineers said a detailed analysis of the building's current wind load would be required, and only then could they suggest what structural modifications might be required.

• The engineers confirmed the building code will likely require the closure of the first floor, which sits too close to sea level. That would lose all the retail space the city added in 1987 in an attempt to inject more life into the attraction, which ultimately proved unsuccessful.

• The report says the facility needs a lightning protection system to reduce the potential for fire and other damage.

So what would this all cost? Unknown. The engineers said they couldn't possibly say without more tests, such as on wind load and whether it would be possible to modify the first floor's elevation.

There is a city estimate for what it might take to rehabilitate the building: $12 million. But that estimate was made last year based solely on square foot costs. And it was an exercise in trying to estimate, after voters rejected the replacement plan known as the Lens, how far the remaining $46 million budget might stretch if no new facility was built. The verdict then was the budget could possibly stretch to replace the badly deteriorating, 90-year-old approach and surround, and rehabilitate the inverted pyramid. But it would be for a modest version of a facility that was struggling to attract visitors when it closed last year: A narrower approach, less space in the building and no new amenities.

Fans of the inverted pyramid may see hope in the engineering report, but what's possible and what is a wise use of taxpayer money are two different things.

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Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18
Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Editorial: Hillsborough commission should quit expanding urban area

Any movement on modernizing local transportation is welcome, even small steps like the million dollars the state recently approved to design a Tampa Bay regional transit plan.But the region won’t make any progress on transportation, its single most p...
Published: 04/13/18
Updated: 04/18/18

Editorial: Fight harder on citrus greening

A new report by scientists advising the federal government finds no breakthrough discovery for managing citrus greening, a chronic disease killing Florida’s citrus industry. This should be a wake-up call to bring greater resources to the fight.The re...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18

Editorial: Floridians should focus more on health

A new snapshot of the nation’s health shows a mixed picture for Florida and the challenges that residents and the health care community face in improving the quality of life.Americans are living longer, exercising more and doing better at managing th...
Published: 04/11/18
Updated: 04/13/18
Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Editorial: 5 key issues where Scott, Nelson differ in Senate race

Gov. Rick Scott kicked off his U.S. Senate campaign last week by reciting tired lines about career politicians and mischaracterizing himself as an outsider. That pitch may have worked during the tea party wave eight years ago, but now the Republican ...
Published: 04/10/18
Updated: 04/13/18