Wednesday, June 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: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s 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
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18