City lacks foresight in rushing this plan
I have been a resident of the Tampa Bay area for almost 50 years. I know what the historic impact of the existing Pier is and was. I also know that many businesses have come and gone at this location. Many events have centered around this area and will continue to do so with the success of the Beach Drive area.
What I cannot understand is the complete lack of foresight the city of St. Petersburg possesses. The current Lens design (which more resembles a toilet bowl than a lens) will snuff business, At a time when our governor is trying to create jobs and stability, the city is doing exactly the opposite. One store owner had been in business at the Pier for over 20 years. Asked if she was going to relocate, she responded "never in the city of St Pete."
It is my understanding that the new "Toilet Bowl" will be a biking and walking complex. How's that going to work? I am sure the homeless will find their new accommodations very welcoming.
I am a resident of Tierra Verde and thank our community for not allowing itself to be annexed into the city of St Pete. St. Pete offers higher taxes, mismanagement of its law enforcement, and unstable foresight and decisionmaking concerning everything from its sports teams to valuable waterfront assets.
Both sides of the Lens argument make a valid statement that we can do better. I do not think eliminating businesses, jobs, and a source of revenue and entertainment is the answer. A complete review of the goals and desires of the area's residents is first and foremost, with a halt put to the Lens.
Jay Pilini, Tierra Verde
Mayor guarantees vote day for Lens
Not black, white
I was at that first Lens vote council meeting, when everybody was saying that all the public really cares about is whether they like the Lens design or not. That's not all I care about. I like the Lens as long as boat dockage is provided nearby. As a taxpayer, I'm sick of paying $1.5 to $2 million each year just to maintain the old Pier and keep a few shops operating, but I realize you can't please everybody, so I'm leaning on the side of a vote on Aug. 27.
It's important to note, however, that Jim Kennedy was the only council member at that meeting to question publicly the costs of maintaining the Lens. I appreciate the fact that at least one council member cares enough before committing our taxpayer money.
David Hoover, St. Petersburg
As a resident of St. Petersburg, I take no position on keeping the Pier or building the Lens because my question is the same for both options: "What do you do when you get there?"
It's a long walk with either option in the subtropical sun to look at water, see pelicans eat hand-thrown fish or dive for their own food, browse trinket shops and eat in a restaurant.
The current Pier is such a ghost town that the city has to subsidize the shops to stay open. Why would the Lens be any different?
Frank Lupo, St. Petersburg
Consider sea grass
It is possible to rebuild the Pier and coincidentally increase sea grass coverage in the surrounding area. A view from above clearly reveals a sea grass bed near downtown that is interrupted by the Pier, which extends into and beyond the bed. By reducing the length of the Pier, it would be possible to restore sea grasses to their natural state in that area, thereby increasing nutrient filtration, habitat availability and aesthetics. The additional sea grass would increase fishing opportunities for such desirable species as trout, snook and redfish, and a properly designed pier would actually allow recreational fishing opportunities. I have seen no reason why the pier has to be a certain length, so why not consider a shorter pier, a healthier Tampa Bay and a more attractive downtown environment?
Move forward with removing the Pier but then take a breather while reconsidering all of the options for replacing that iconic structure.
Bill Arnold, St. Petersburg
Not a priority
Of all the streets in St. Petersburg that deserve repair or resurfacing, how the heck did they pick 16th Street NE between 62nd and 72nd avenues N? A street view via Google Earth will confirm that the street was in very good condition. Clearly this half-mile of road did not need to be resurfaced. Could it be that influential residents of this upscale neighborhood (Harbor Isle) did some arm twisting with the city? This appears to be a shameful waste of taxpayer money in a city that has many unmet needs.
Bob Hopewell, St. Petersburg
Fort De Soto anniversary
Money well spent
I attended the 50th anniversary celebration of Fort De Soto Park, and it was wonderful. As Bill Maxwell stated in a column, it truly is our crown jewel. We visited the gulf fishing pier, the north beach and the assorted group tables near the fort. The bald eagle, hawks and owls were a pleasure to see close up. Fort De Soto and the entire event are a perfect example of tax dollars well spent.
Robert Pressrich, St. Petersburg
Mayor Bill Foster
A real leader
I fully support Bill Foster and think he has done a superior job as mayor. He is protecting the finances of all residents when enforcing the lease with the Rays, despite liberal opposition that says contracts don't mean much. He also supports light rail to bring riders from other areas and tourists to our city, and replacing a decaying Pier with a real tourist draw. As a private lawyer, he has helped members of the minority community with personal and business issues without any personal recognition. We need more of Foster's type of leadership and personal responsibility in St. Petersburg.
Richard Carey, St. Petersburg