04/16/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The latest complication with the pier project hinges on legalities.
What happens if the City Council balks at authorizing contract negotiations with the recommended top-ranked design team?
The city's lawyers have said the project would come to a standstill. An inveterate pier watcher says otherwise.
William Ballard, a retired construction and banking lawyer and former president of Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg, the group that blocked the city's last attempt to give residents a new pier, says the way forward is simple....
04/16/15 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — Several years ago, a local pastor tried to put together an interfaith coalition to offer homeless families temporary shelter at congregational facilities and help them find jobs and permanent housing.
That attempt to launch a branch of the nationwide Family Promise program, which requires a network of more than a dozen willing congregations, struggled to get off the ground....
PINELLAS PARK -—When the Tampa Bay Armenian community learned that Pope Francis had labeled the early 20th century slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks a genocide, they were surprised and gratified.
Adrienne Ekizian had grown up hearing her mother and grandmother tell of being driven from their home in Turkey, suffering hunger and exhaustion, seeing the elderly and children left to die along the way and of soldiers throwing babies in the air and using their bayonets to spear them....
04/09/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Facing disillusionment about the process he set in motion almost a year ago to reboot the city's hopes for a new or renovated pier, Mayor Rick Kriseman took his case to the City Council on Thursday.
Stick with the process, he urged council members. And go with what a volunteer selection committee decides.
"There are three very good designs," he said. "Each of them has merit."...
04/07/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman will address the City Council on Thursday about his plan to give the city a new or renovated pier by 2018.
In recent weeks, his carefully delineated process has appeared to be on the verge of unraveling as a selection committee put off making a decision about which of three ideas would evolve to become the city's latest pier.
Ben Kirby, the mayor's spokesman, said Kriseman will remind council members of the inclusive process he established, emphasizing the public input that began with the pier working group that established what citizens want at the attraction....
ST. PETERSBURG — In about three weeks, there's likely to be a decision about which one of three pier design team finalists will be recommended for the $46 million project. • In the intervening period, the architects and engineering teams of the Pier Park, Destination St. Pete Pier and Alma concepts must prepare answers for a final round before the six-member committee charged with evaluating and ranking their submissions. • Here's a look at some of what each plan offers, potential problems and where the people who must make a decision about one of the city's most controversial projects are leaning....
At Rabbi Josh Hearshen's South Tampa home, preparation for Passover began in earnest two weeks ago.
He helped to scour the kitchen and even used a blowtorch to banish every trace of chametz, the leavened products strictly forbidden during the eight-day festival, which begins at sundown today.
The dusting, sweeping, vacuuming and scrubbing are all part of the preparation for Passover, celebrated with the seder, or ritual meal, on the first and second nights of what is perhaps the best-known Jewish holiday....
04/01/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The design teams short-listed for the final round in the competition for the city's $46 million pier project now have the questions selection committee members want answered.
The more than two dozen questions address issues such as safety, transportation, costs, and how the proposed designs fulfill the desires of residents, relate to the city's Downtown Waterfront Master Plan and deal with what hasn't worked at the Pier in the past. There are even queries about the number and location of toilets....
03/31/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The date has been set for what could be the final meeting of Mayor Rick Kriseman's Pier Selection Committee.
The six-member group will meet at 2 p.m. April 23 to hear answers to specific questions they had for the three design team finalists. The committee also could ask followup questions of the architectural and engineering teams proposing the Pier Park, Destination St. Pete Pier and Alma designs....
03/28/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The man who launched the first volley against a decision to demolish the city's unique inverted-pyramid pier almost five years ago is preparing another salvo.
This time, Tom Lambdon, who lives in Safety Harbor, has set his sights on the St. Petersburg municipal charter. His aim, he says, is to further protect the city's cherished downtown waterfront by requiring a public vote on demolition — including the inverted pyramid and Al Lang Stadium — and development on the uplands....
03/23/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Days after a group charged with recommending the top design for a new or renovated pier failed to make a decision, discontent about what to do about the waterfront landmark seemed to be stirring again.
"If what I'm reading on social media is accurate, it sounds as though there is going to be a backlash," St. Petersburg City Council member Charlie Gerdes said.
His colleague Wengay Newton called it deja vu, referring to the months of debate over whether, and how, to replace the 1973 inverted pyramid that culminated in a referendum in which the public rejected a proposed ultra-modern design....
03/20/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — There's no telling whether the projected grand opening of St. Petersburg's Pier, scheduled for spring 2018 will happen on time, given a major setback in the process Friday.
After a 12-hour meeting, Mayor Rick Kriseman's Pier Selection Committee adjourned after failing to pick a preliminary design for the $46 million project. The sticking point came with the need to rank the top three concepts and when it became apparent that hometown favorite, Destination St. Pete Pier, was not going to be the top choice....
03/19/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Exactly what shape will define the city's downtown waterfront for decades to come could be decided today, as a citizens' committee selects which pier design the city should pursue.
Mayor Rick Kriseman's Pier Selection Committee will evaluate and rank no fewer than three of the seven design teams at a morning meeting in the City Council chambers. The ranking is in keeping with state law....
They gathered in Clearwater one rainy Saturday, almost 200 local Presbyterian leaders, to vote on issues affecting the national church. One item had the potential to be contentious, so the moderator laid out ground rules to stave off verbal fisticuffs.
When it was over, ministers and elders voted, 108 to 94, to ratify a constitutional amendment to allow gay marriage in the Presbyterian Church (USA)....
ST. PETERSBURG — With Holy Week just a few days away, parishioners at St. Mary Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church plan to prepare for the most sacred period of the Lenten season with the help of a visiting Franciscan priest whose resume includes more than a decade in China working as a missionary, English teacher and corporate executive.
Father Albert Haase, 59, now preaches around the United States, primarily to members of his Roman Catholic faith, but also to other Christians. In St. Petersburg, he will preach at this weekend's masses at St. Mary's and at evening prayer services on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday....