Sunday, December 17, 2017
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: Warren’s smart approach on guns, domestic violence

Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren would make it safer for victims and police alike with his plan to remove firearms from defendants charged with domestic violence. These cases are toxic enough, and having guns at the ready only adds to a dang...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

Editorial: St. Petersburg council right to reject Bayfront deal

The St. Petersburg City Council made the difficult but correct decision this week to reject the proposed sale of a local nonprofit’s minority stake in Bayfront hospital. Despite months of negotiations, there were too many questions, a few suspicions ...
Published: 12/15/17
Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Editorial: Congress should fix flood insurance, children’s health insurance before Christmas

Here’s a snapshot of misplaced priorities in Washington. Last week, the Federal Communications Commission foolishly rushed to scrap net neutrality rules and allow internet service providers to treat different content differently despite overwhelming ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

Editorial: Scott’s smart changes to sexual harassment policy

With misconduct allegations rippling through all levels of government, Gov. Rick Scott has taken the prudent step of ordering uniform sexual harassment policies throughout state agencies. The executive order strengthens protections for victims, which...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

Editorial: MOSI faces a clean slate and should give everyone a piece of chalk

For three years, the only news about finances at Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry was bad news: "Struggling MOSI asks Hillsborough County for $400,000 loan," one headline read, "Audit sees MOSI finances slipping," read another, and "MOSI donor ...
Published: 12/14/17
Updated: 12/15/17
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17