St. Pete group wants redo on Pier replacement
ST. PETERSBURG - A group of residents is fighting the proposal to replace The Pier's inverted pyramid building with a more modern structure. Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg said there were flaws in the city's two-year process that selected "The Lens, an oval with looping bridges, a protected dock and a canopy. The group said the wishes of the people were ignored by the city council, which approved the design and the investment of $50 million plus interest. "We have a bona fide poll that 76 percent of folks who voted in the last election and expect to vote in the next election said they disapproved of borrowing the money to build 'The Lens,' " said Bud Risser, a member of the group."Go back to square one," he said. In August 2010, the city council voted 7-1 to demolish the Pier that has been a landmark structure on the downtown waterfront since it was constructed in 1973. Engineers determined the 1,000-plus pilings undergirding the approach were coming to the end of their useful life. The pilings holding up the approach date to the 1920s. The Pier is scheduled to close Memorial Day 2013 and demolition is to begin that fall. In January, the city council announced that it had chosen the Lens from three designs. Other features might be added later, including an amphitheatre with a garage. The entire project could cost up to $160 million. The group plans to circulate a petition calling on the council to scrap the plan for the Lens, saying they want voters to have a choice in whatever gets built on the site. In August, councilors voted 6-2 against giving voters a say in the project, despite the efforts of the group Vote on the Pier, which collected 20,000 signatures to push for public input. The city council has a workshop scheduled for 1 p.m. today in the council chamber with Michael Maltzan, the architect of the "Lens."
News Channel 8 reporter Peter Bernard contributed to this report.