Thursday, April 26, 2018
Editorials

Pier plans get back on track

This is what progress looks like one month after the St. Petersburg City Council rejected an ill-informed petition drive seeking to save the inverted pyramid Pier: a near-unanimous and supportive council asking thoughtful questions about refining a promising new design and an architect who is listening. The next big test for the Lens will come in roughly 60 days, when the council will need to decide if architect Michael Maltzan and his team have a project worth continuing. Right now, that looks more likely than not.

On Thursday, Maltzan and his colleagues unveiled refinements to the Lens design based on feedback from meetings with environmental regulators, marine scientists, construction experts and 25 meetings with nearly 1,000 members of the public. It's clear they are responding to what they are hearing.

The design's essential elements haven't changed: looping, escalating walkways that lead to a tiara-like canopy over the water. But now the amenities are clearer, such as details about the upland building called the "hub" that will house a restaurant with outdoor dining and retail space. There also will be a waterfront promenade with access for fishing and a public plaza for community events that could include a potential splash pad to attract families. A large dining space has been added under the tiara. And amenities along the walkways, including shade, restrooms, a marina, kayak rentals, a bait shop and concessions — and a promise that all will be accessible by wheelchair and serviced by a tram — make it much easier for residents to grasp how they will experience the new destination.

Maltzan and his team now concede their original vision for an uplit, clear water garden at the Lens' center isn't likely due to Tampa Bay's murkiness. But they are still looking for some way to use the space for educational purposes and have enlisted the help of several Tampa Bay marine scientists. Council member Wengay Newton, who stubbornly clings to saving the inverted pyramid against all logic, seized on that change Thursday as one more reason the Lens should not be built. And Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg — a group that includes individuals whose earlier petition drive failed to force a referendum on saving the inverted pyramid — is trying to derail the Lens with another petition drive. Their self-interests are not in the best interests of the city.

The council and Mayor Bill Foster should stay on course. Public projects of this size are rarely without controversy. This design is the culmination of a thoughtful, yearslong process that has spanned the terms of two different mayors and involved thousands of citizens. The council will need to do its due diligence in 60 days, when the Maltzan team delivers additional design refinements and detailed financial information about construction and long-term maintenance, to ensure it's the right decision to build. But so far, the process appears to be heading in the right direction.

Comments

‘Happy hour’ tax cuts may result in hangovers

Evidence is mounting that the $1.5 trillion tax-cut package enacted in December by congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump was a bad idea, not only for the long-run health of the economy but for the short-term political prospects of the ...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

Editorial: St. Petersburg’s waste-to-energy to wastefulness project

A St. Petersburg waste-to-energy plant now under construction has been billed for years as an environmentally friendly money saver. Now it looks more like a boondoggle, with the cost and mission changing on the fly. It’s yet another example of a city...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Published: 04/23/18
Updated: 04/25/18

Correction

CorrectionCircuit Judge John Stargel of Lakeland is a member of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission who voted against a proposed amendment that would have stopped write-in candidates from closing primary elections. An editorial Saturday inco...
Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18