The vote came one day after VoteOnThePier.com, a group that's been striving for years to get a referendum on the ballot regarding whether there should be a new Pier, went before a judge. This prompted Lens critic Wengay Newton to introduce a motion at the beginning of the meeting to delay voting on the new funds. But He didn't get a second vote from his Council colleagues.
City Attorney John Wolfe told the council that if the second activist group trying to stop the lens project, StopTheLens.com, is able to get enough signatures to put up a ballot question, is still wouldn't prevent the inverted pyramid from being demolished next May as scheduled.
Today, for more than two hours, dozens and dozens of citizens spoke either for or against the council approving the funds. After a lunch break, council members then discussed the issue for another two hours.
Lens critic Ken Carpenter said there are too many unknown issues about the aluminum steel that the construction firm (Skanska) said it will use to build the canopy of the proposal. He also questioned who would fill the two slots designated for restauranteurs, referring to the fact that the proposed restaurant at the Hangar sat empty for two years, "and you had walls (there). You have a slab now." He added that it would be "irresponsible" to pass the proposal.
TV ad pitch-man Anthony Sullivan has become one of the Lens' biggest public supporters. He said the new design for the Pier has a "wow factor," and that "this is about being number one. Not number two, not number three."
Activist Tyler Mitchell said the council was throwing money away by voting for The Lens allocation. He said the StopTheLens.com opponents will get their measure on the ballot.
"This Pier is not something that works for the people, " he boasted. "We will win, no matter how many propaganda videos you make. We have numbers, and we will take this thing down." He also said he's prepared to be arrested, resisting the bulldozers coming into to tear down the structure next year.
Council members debated whether to pay the entire $4.75 million at once, or break it up into three different payments. The city administration frowned upon that idea, first proposed by Councilman Steve Kornell.
Development Director Chris Ballestra said while it wouldn't be devastating to break up the payments, it would hurt the community and architect Michael Maltzan's team if there was no vote at today's meeting for the initial package.
"It gives the community confidence we're moving forward," he said.
Councilman Jim Kennedy expressed the viewpoint of several council members that the plan now features kayaks but not powered boats. He said he was struggling with how to vote.
"I still feel rushed in this process," he admitted.
Ten days ago, Maltzan delivered 800 pages of information about his design, much of it new, to all members of the City Council.
"Every week we delay breaking ground, we delay getting people to work," City administrator Mike Connors complained.
Karl Nurse then moved the motion to pay $1.65 million — the first portion of the total payment. It died without a second vote.
Then Kornell came back to propose that the council authorize the entire $4.75 million, but with only the first tranche of $1.65 million going out immediately. Newton was the lone dissenter.