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....
03/12/15 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — They plan to arrive by the hundreds, by bus, car, truck and plane, to wave placards and carry banners in support of Florida's farmworkers.
They will parade from Midtown, home to some of St. Petersburg's most deprived neighborhoods, and end at Vinoy Park, on the city's pristine, affluent downtown waterfront. Along the way, they plan strategic stops of protest at a Wendy's and Publix....
03/09/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — A local team that would "reimagine" the inverted pyramid has captured the most votes in a nonbinding poll that sought to determine which of seven proposed pier designs St. Petersburg residents like most.
Neither of the two runners-up, though, plan to use the pyramid.
Destination St. Pete Pier, the people's favorite in the unscientific survey, will reprise the original inverted pyramid — added on to in the 1980s — but update the unusual structure and surround it with multilevel decks....
03/06/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — For weeks, the city nudged residents to complete an online survey to choose up to three of seven pier proposals they like best.
Hours before Friday's midnight deadline, city officials declined to say how many of St. Petersburg's 229,780 residents eligible to do so had participated in the nonbinding poll. But figures released earlier in the week indicated that only a tiny fraction had done so....
ST. PETERSBURG — The bishop was not amused.
Not with the video of one of his priests — complete with clerical collar — advocating gratitude for marijuana.
"Now, thanking God for weed might feel a little awkward at first," says the Rev. Chris Schuller — a former rector at St. Thomas' Episcopal Church in the Snell Isle neighborhood — in the short video that's punctuated with the reggae rhythms of Bob Marley....
02/28/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — When the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce held its annual meeting at the Mahaffey Theater in January, one of the sponsors of the gathering, which drew more than 1,200 people, was the St. Pete Design Group.
The group, whose banner hung from a theater balcony, is one of seven design teams vying for the city's $46 million pier project.
Some cried foul, saying the publicity has given the team an unfair advantage....
ST. PETERSBURG — Days before his 100th birthday, Willie N. Rogers spoke with reverence about Eleanor Roosevelt and her sense of racial justice. He mentioned what he said was a prevailing sentiment of the time, that black people were incapable of understanding complex machines, much less fly a plane.
Sitting in his wheelchair, he reminisced against a backdrop of family photographs, a People magazine cover of America's first black president and a younger version of himself in military uniform bearing a Tuskegee Airmen insignia....
ST. PETERSBURG — The Rev. Philip Lilly expects there will be a certain amount of disruption for his congregation as the yearslong, $83 million Gandy Boulevard project proceeds.
"But I think, in the end, it will facilitate better traffic flow," he said.
Lilly is executive pastor of First Baptist Church of St. Petersburg, a sprawling landmark on the hurricane evacuation route traveled by an average of 43,000 vehicles a day....