Can children lead us to new ideas?
There were three separate Pier-related stories in the paper Sunday. Sandra Gadsden (Pier Task Force needs new members, ideas) called for new members on the Pier Task Force because she said the current one is made up of "boarders" who are all over 40, thus denying a voice to the youth of today who will likely use it in the years to come. They will certainly be the ones to reap the benefits or pay the price for what we do in the next few years.
Robert Trigaux (Wanted: St. Petersburg icons that sparkle) complained that the city has no clear vision of what role it wants the Pier to serve in our community. Input from the younger demographic of our city is critical here. This not only bolsters Gadsden's call for more younger people on the task force, it also calls for somehow engaging those same people to provide their thoughts in other venues.
Finally, Michael Van Sickler reported in the Tampa Bay section (Public: Stand pat on Pier) that most of the people who have been speaking up at the public hearings support keeping the Pier as is — a retail venue. The price of keeping it as is, coincidently, is one of the cheapest options, particularly if we make the road to the venue at the end a causeway rather than a pier. But if, as he claims, it appeals more to tourists than residents and will require a continued subsidy, then the long-term costs negate that short-term savings on construction.
We definitely need more input from those under 40. How many of them show up, kids in tow, to speak at the public hearings on the Pier? If they don't come to speak out, how can we include their comments and perspective? If they don't show up to speak, why not? Should we care? I think we should and that it is incumbent on the city and the paper to try to get a better understanding of what is more important to them than having a say in the city's future.
In the meantime, why not ask schoolchildren to send in drawings showing their ideas? They could do this as class projects, individual entries, or even as workshops held by the city at the Pier. Have a workshop at the Pier and draw more people to the site. Display the drawings out there and stimulate interest. Maybe if the adults in the house can't come up with a unified vision, the children of this city will point us in the right direction.
Willi Rudowsky, St. Petersburg
Cruise ships could bring crowds, cash
I have seen the proposals for our iconic Pier, and none of them includes attracting tourists via cruise ships.
Rebuilding the Pier, including dredging the waterway around the Pier to accommodate these large vessels, would bring massive amounts of passenger dollars and increase the profile of St. Petersburg as a tourist location. Why should the Port of Tampa have all the port facilities of the great Tampa Bay?
It's time to step up and be wise to the long run of our wonderful Pier. Not all things pay in up-front money.
Lawrence Kautz, St. Petersburg
Let's take a gamble on casino complex
Let's get some Las Vegas money here to rebuild the Pier into a casino complex at no cost to us. It's time to think of the future.
Fred Peters, South Pasadena
Venue offers stroll you won't forget
As a 30-year resident of St. Petersburg, I am concerned about the next step for our Pier and the property surrounding it.
I have been reading the articles and letters sent in to the paper and really find it hard to believe that anyone would consider taking away that beautiful walk from Beach Drive down the Pier. As one walks, there are dolphins, beautiful boats, beaches, a full sky and ever-changing water patterns to enjoy. Once on the Pier one can watch the fishermen, often listen to music, have a bite to eat, look back at our fair city and — if we stop building such high buildings — watch some pretty amazing sunsets.
For those who can't make the walk, we already have in place parking and trams to give equal access to all. In this day and age of tight money, high gas prices and obesity, it would seem a walk up or down the Pier would be just the thing to promote.
How about artist stalls up and down the walk, entertainers, markets of all types or one-man shows? These could draw more people. I understand it takes funding to keep such a wonderful attraction, but our uncluttered waterfront should be the one thing we all support and strive to keep. Once ruined, we will never get it back.
If you haven't done it lately, come on, play tourist and go enjoy one of our treasures, our St. Petersburg Pier! Once you take that stroll, you might not be so quick to think of drastic change there.
Carol M. Skey, St. Petersburg
Great Explorations owes money, cites economy | Feb. 5
Article should have focused on strengths
As the parent of a child in day care at the Early Learning Institute at Great Explorations Museum, I was disappointed with this article.
Great Explorations has been creative and innovative in its strategy to diversify, building a funding base in addition to museum admission fees through its Early Learning Institute day care.
The Early Learning Institute isn't just a drop-off day care. It strives to give young children well-rounded learning experiences including science, explorations through hands-on creative play, computers in the classroom and inside the museum for children to use, and an action-packed day.
This article could erode faith in this institution that is serving families at a time when the economy is strangling family-serving facilities.
What Great Explorations deserved was an opportunity to be presented to the community in a way that focused on its strengths and ways the community can rally behind this entertainment/learning center, not for it to be bashed because of its debt.
I understand that Great Explorations owes the city of St. Petersburg, but isn't this the same city with low graduation statistics that can be overcome with high-quality child care and voluntary prekindergarten preparation? Isn't this the same city that wants to spend millions on renovating the Pier, which no one has any interest in?
I encourage your writer to spend a few hours at the Early Learning Institute at Great Explorations. You will find that this facility, with its full-time volunteers and dedicated staff, is worthy of positive media coverage for what its doing right with less!
L. Davis, St. Petersburg