Re: New pier receives green light, story, May 18
Let the people decide how to spend money
If the residents of St. Petersburg were ever curious as to the location of the back of the bus, then they should have been at the City Council meeting May 17. The entire council, save one, told their constituents not only to sit there, but shut up.
In question was a vote to move forward on the pier involving an initial expense of 4.7 million taxpayer dollars — an expense that was approved despite the objections of many.
Few doubt the Pier is structurally unsound and needs removal. The problem arises when we are forced to accept what is proposed as a replacement.
Opponents have properly stated that the new design serves no purpose, does nothing. Even a Tampa Bay Times columnist described it as a sidewalk to nowhere. In addition, no one knows, or, if they do, won't say, what the final cost of this thing will be. No plans with the attendant costs exist to connect the new pier with the land mass.
Unfortunately for all concerned, the mayor and council aren't interested in any dissent. Councilman Wengay Newton made it a point to state he wants "to make sure the people know there's one council member not in cahoots with this." Cahoots — an excellent word that pinpoints this whole pier debacle.
The mayor, a majority of this council and a few editorial writers on the Tampa Bay Times staff have decided that they know best and the opinion of the citizenry is of no consequence.
Rather than continue the heavy-handed method now being used, let's try democracy. Put this on the ballot and let the people decide. What does the city have to fear from the wishes of the people?
The Pier has to come down, so do it. Then let's erect something that satisfies the needs of the community, something that is emblematic of our city, a structure that uses private enterprise and city involvement.
At present, the proposed structure is being seen as a monument to our elected officials' egos. Our politicians are doing nothing to erase that image.
Gary West, St. Petersburg
Re: Sign deal to usher in new pier, editorial, May 17
Plan not good enough
I can only characterize the Times' call for moving forward on the "Lens" proposal as another fine example of the "ready, fire, aim" mentality that all too often permeates the decision-making process involving public projects.
I understand that every undertaking of such magnitude includes some design details that must be ironed out as the project takes physical shape, but the current "proposal" is riddled with contingencies that simply do not justify committing $50 million in public money any time soon.
Predictably, the Times cavalierly dismisses such concerns by characterizing the Lens plan as "more concept than blueprint." They even admit that at this point it is "not clear how much money is available for the actual construction" of the project. Really.
Rest assured that the developers of any privately funded construction project would be required by their financiers to present much more concrete specifications before the actual pouring of concrete would be authorized. Private developers would also not resort to the hiring of an additional "cost" expert to ensure that the construction dollars were being properly spent.
For all the flowery talk of "due diligence" and "public input," I sense that this latest clarion call to action is merely a response to the Times' perception that the window of opportunity to approve the Lens project is quickly closing. Rather than denigrating the concerns of those citizens who are calling for greater detail in how the available $50 million should be invested, the Times should be leading the call for more definitive plans and fiscal accountability.
Instead, their approach in pushing this poorly conceived project forward is a harbinger of both aesthetic and financial ruin for our otherwise revitalized downtown waterfront. The taxpaying citizens of St. Petersburg deserve more.
Robert E. Heyman, St. Petersburg
Let's be responsible
As if taking a cue from the state of Florida in its building of an unnecessary 12th taxpayer-supported state university, our local spendthrift St. Petersburg City Council is going ahead with blowing $4.7 million of taxpayer money on a questionable "art piece" to replace the deteriorating St. Petersburg Pier. I'm sure there is a less expensive way to resolve the Pier problem.
Most of the council feels it's not important to put it to a vote of those who must pay for it, because in their infinite wisdom there is no need to be even close to responsible when spending someone else's money, despite the grave financial times the country, state and city are in.
No problem to these big spenders that the St. Petersburg Police building is in shambles — too small, too old and outdated, and in a poor area. So, as the old, worn-out police building implodes before our eyes, these self-important big shots can take great solace in the fact that they performed their duties as the majority of elected officials do: totally disregard the people who put them into office and do whatever they please. Where on earth do these clowns come from?
Bill Goggin, St. Petersburg
Leave it alone, please
I went to the St. Petersburg Pier yesterday with my family. It makes me sad that they want to tear it down. There are fish that live here. People love to shop and eat here. I love the Pier. People love the Pier. Fish love the Pier. Just please do not tear town the Pier. Why do you want to tear down the Pier?
Elizabeth Delp (age 8), Gulfport
Re: Pinellas Bayway construction
We can share burden
As a St. Pete Beach resident, I have been spending an ever-increasing amount of time on the Pinellas Bayway waiting for watercraft to pass as the new bridge is being constructed.
I have a suggestion that would help residents and visitors maintain more of a normal traffic flow.
Currently, the bridge closes three times an hour — every 20 minutes — for passing sailboats or other tall craft. During the construction of the bridge, wouldn't it make sense to allow boats through the bridge once an hour (at the top of the hour) until the work is completed?
The watercraft are out for recreation purposes and this wouldn't inconvenience them. Meanwhile, motorists are burning expensive fuel waiting for the bridge to open. There should be some shared sacrifice among everyone while the bridge construction proceeds.
George Chase, St. Pete Beach
Re: What causes bounce on Bayside Bridge?, Dr. Delay column, May 20
Goofs take us for ride
It was an interesting take by the Pinellas County Public Works "engineers" on the reasons for the bumpy ride on the northbound lane of the Bayside Bridge. What was their take on the smooth ride when you reach about halfway across the bridge? Trolls?
Can you picture the following scenario during construction: "Holy cow, what happened to the "THIS SIDE UP" stencils on those cambers?"
So what about the northern half of the bridge? Different inspectors?
There's a couple of goofs here.
The construction engineers(?) who needed the "THIS SIDE UP" stencils on the cambers and the "inspector" who signed off on this debacle, which cannot be fixed with a Band-Aid.
Mim Merta, Dunedin