Bill Foster administration suffers MAJOR setback as plans for new police HQs are scrapped

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The one interest group beleaguered St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster could depend on for support were the rank-and-file police officers who helped elect him and, in turn, found a friend in City Hall.

Well, I don’t know who is left on Foster’s side now that he has scrapped plans for a new police headquarters.

St. Petersburg once envisioned a four-story, 200,000 square-foot, hurricane-reinforced building with a 400-space parking garage that could shield the entire police fleet from a storm, operate around the clock seven days a week and provide modern crime-fighting amenities like climate-controlled storage for DNA.

But as the economy slumped, tax revenues dropped significantly, leaving a gaping shortfall for the proposed station.

Foster has been unable to find money to plug that hole. Earlier this month, Pinellas County officials rejected a request by Foster to divert another $20 million in sales tax money for it.

“One thing I do know is we won’t build a new ($64 million) station any time soon,” Foster said Thursday.

I really don’t know which way Foster goes at this point, with the police station or politically.

I guess the current police HQ will get refurbished or something like.  I really don’t care.  Nor should building a new police station should not have been a priority while the city was deciding what to do about the Pier.

I am not the only one who did not support this project.

Public support for a new headquarters has been anemic. A 2011 poll showed that 56 percent of residents disapproved of the project. Even worse, only 26 percent of the 303 residents polled actually supported it while 17 percent were undecided.

Of course, there wasn’t any support for a new police HQ because Foster did little to galvanize public support for the project. He simply declared that there needed to be a new building just as he flippantly mothballed the project yesterday.

Now Foster must face the reality that he failed to deliver for the only guys who were still standing behind him.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.