05/17/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman has said that the budget for the new pier is firm, but a financial windfall or two may change that.
Of the $50 million originally budgeted for the project, about $4.5 million has already been spent, intensifying the challenge to conjure up amenities that residents have said will hold their interest in the downtown fixture.
The announcement of a $632,000 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grant, to be supplemented with $300,000 from the city, boosts the strained budget. The money will be used for transient docks south of the pier's Pelican parking lot, near the breakwater....
05/08/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The journey toward the city's next pier may have reached an important juncture, but much lies ahead before celebrations can be contemplated for a projected spring 2018 grand opening.
Contracts must be negotiated and signed, designs have to be refined, permits must be gotten from federal, state and county agencies, and an old pier has to be demolished.
And amid the jubilation of finally selecting a plan to carry on the city's waterfront tradition, detractors are threatening to derail the process with a referendum for voter input on changes to the downtown waterfront, including the pier....
05/07/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — After years of infighting and false starts, St. Petersburg is preparing to build a new pier to carry on a tradition that goes back for more than a century.
City Council members voted Thursday to authorize contract negotiations with the designers of Pier Park, a concept that will pay little homage to the inverted pyramid that has stood since 1973 and still engenders deep passion among some residents....
ST. PETERSBURG — Mike Price has lived near Lake Pasadena all his life, accustomed to ducks lazing on the water, waddling along nearby streets and wandering into neighborhood yards.
Then they started dying, their carcasses floating on the lake with the tiny island in the middle, where egrets and other birds returned to rest in the evenings.
Price, 44, the owner of a martial arts business, became alarmed when he saw what was happening at the lake in his Eagle Crest neighborhood....
05/06/15 Human Interest
ST. PETERSBURG — Thirty-five years to the day since the horrific accident that sent 35 people plummeting to their deaths from the Sunshine Skyway, a monument is to be dedicated to their memory.
Saturday's ceremony will take place at a point overlooking the shipping channel through which the freighter Summit Venture was traveling when it struck a support column, collapsing the center section of the bridge's southbound span....
05/05/15 Human Interest
The homeless call it "the cage." The Huffington Post said it resembles "a giant chicken coop for humans."
But to St. Vincent de Paul and the city, the fenced space that stretches from the charity to under the interstate is "the Courtyard."
It's where homeless men and women sit and sleep on benches or on the ground, secure their bikes, smoke and wander in and out at will. It takes the overflow from St. Vincent de Paul's night shelter, which can accommodate only 75 people....
05/05/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — On the eve of the latest pivotal vote in the quest for a new downtown pier, support for keeping the decades-old inverted pyramid appears to be waning.
Instead, Pier Park, a selection committee's choice to replace the 1973 pyramid, looks to be gaining ground.
On Thursday morning, St. Petersburg City Council members are scheduled to vote on whether to allow the administration to negotiate with Pier Park designers. Deciding not to would throw the drawn-out pier process into a quandary and force officials back to the drawing board....
The Municipal Pier. The Million Dollar Pier. The inverted pyramid. And now, Pier Park? For the fourth time in a century, St. Petersburg is about to decide on a new public pier. This Thursday the City Council will vote whether to authorize contract negotiations with the winning design team. If approved, the $46 million project is set for a grand opening the spring of 2018. But what is it? Let's go on a virtual walking tour. Click on the image below to see a PDF of Pier Park. Start at the red circle below and work your way counterclockwise....
04/24/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The majority of City Council members appear ready to endorse the decision of Mayor Rick Kriseman's selection committee concerning the future of the city's pier.
"I'm going to vote for it," council member Karl Nurse said. "Let's do it and get it under construction."
Council members will be asked to authorize contract negotiations with the designers of Pier Park, a project with floating docks, environmental classrooms, a four-level structure and concert space for 4,000 at the end of the pier....
04/23/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The inverted pyramid, once disparaged as a chicken roost, but in recent years lauded by admirers as a treasured icon, appears to be on its last days.
Late Thursday night a six-member committee voted to replace the 1973 structure with a new attraction — Pier Park — that integrates into the city's downtown waterfront park system.
Destination St. Pete Pier was the second choice, followed by Alma....
04/21/15 Local Government
ST. PETERSBURG — The three pier design team finalists must prove their worth Thursday before dozens of supporters, naysayers and a beleaguered six-member selection panel.
The stakes are high for Alfonso Architects, the St. Pete Design Group and ASD and its partners, the three teams competing for the $46 million pier project.
When last the selection committee met, it appeared to be leaning toward Alfonso's Alma idea, with Destination St. Pete Pier from the St. Pete Design Group and ASD's Pier Park coming in second and third in that order....
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."...