Page 4 of 4
“The city should have stepped up more and said, ‘Here are the pros to the Lens, here are the cons to the option, and put it on a list so you can choose whatever you believe,” says Keriann Arnold, an interior designer with Wannemacher Jensen Architects, the local team working with Maltzan here in St. Pete.
So what happens after the vote on Aug. 27? Well, for one thing, we’ll know who will be running for mayor in the general election on Nov. 5.
Both Rick Kriseman and Kathleen Ford have their own plans for the Pier if they’re elected mayor in November. Ford wants to “refurbish” the existing structure, adding an additional fifth level to the inverted pyramid, and she says she can do it within the original $50 million allocated to the plan. The city administration disagrees, saying it would cost at least $70 million to carry out her plan.
Kriseman’s proposal would call for a task force to file a report within the first three months of his administration, a new design to be in place within nine months, and construction on the new pier to be completed by the end of 2015.
Foster, meanwhile, is trying to prepare for whatever outcome the Lens vote produces. His bipartisan 828 Alliance has already held five meetings in City Hall, with the goal of producing a report for him the day of the election.
At one such meeting last week, Alliance members discussed how the city should go forward if the Lens passes. One member said that something like a “professional ad campaign” would be required to sell the virtues of the project, and another acknowledged the reality that the city government has a credibility problem in the wake of this campaign. Another member talked about working with people in the marine science community to add a feature that would draw families to the area.
And all that if the Lens survives this month’s vote.
But public perceptions may be fixed.
In Midtown last Saturday, Sherman Evers, a 38-year-old African-American outside the St. Petersburg Meat Company, told this reporter that growing up in St. Pete, the Pier was a special place, a place where he and his friends would go and fish and even swim near, since he didn’t have money to go to city pool. But even though it’s been a long time since he’s gone down to that part of the waterfront, he doesn’t want any part of the Lens.
“Who the hell is that Lens catering to?” he asked. “All these rich older people? All these retirees … I do not support the Lens. I hate the Lens!”
It may not be the most sophisticated argument against the plan. And maybe you shouldn’t plan a city by referendum: like many supporters of the Lens, the Chamber’s Chris Steinocher worries about the future of projects like the Lens if they can be stopped in their tracks by a public vote long after the planning process is underway.
“I’m just nervous about what the next one is. Now we’ve got precedents to say you don’t have to honor the process, and you can spend millions and millions of city dollars and then just decide that’s not what you want because you didn’t get the vote you want. I don’t think that’s a good way to build a community and move forward.”
But the Pier and its proposed replacement have taken on so much emotional baggage at this point that there’s no going back. The public will have its say on Aug. 27, and the next chapter in the saga of the St. Pete Pier will begin.
Now about that roller coaster…
Letter to an author whose article I didn't read all the way through: Because it…
When you see panhandlers this young, just remind yourself that foster kids age out of…
Don't go to gaspars cigar shop unless you know sign language or have an interpreter…
Scott u tickle the shit out if me and i thank you...when u gonna start…