Bill Foster’s proposed additional ballot questions on Pier would meet with decisive results, poll says

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While the motives for their possible placement on an upcoming ballot may not be entirely clear, three proposed non-binding questions suggested by Mayor Bill Foster would meet with decisive results. 

The new numbers are part of a new survey from St. Pete Polls commissioned by this blog.

As reported by the St. Petersburg Tribune, Mayor Foster is proposing that several additional questions be added to the ballot to poll voters on alternatives in case they reject the controversial “Lens” design. That includes whether the city should continue having a pier, allow a private company to build and operate a pier or build a simple wooden pier for fishing.

On the first issue, whether the city should continue having a pier, an overwhelming majority — seventy percent — said yes when asked “should build a replacement Municipal Pier and honor the 100 year tradition of having a publicly funded Municipal Pier open to the public?” Nineteen percent disagreed, while 11% said they were unsure.

The option of privatizing the pier appears to be a non-starter with voters as 67% of respondents said they opposed “offering a lease of up to 99 years to a private company to build and operate a commercial nonpublic pier.”

The idea of building a simple wooden fishing pier in place of the current pier is opposed by nearly 76% of voters.

The prospect of adding additional questions has leaders of the group leading the fight to kill the Lens project worried that a complicated ballot will divert voters’ focus from the Lens. Bud Risser, a board member of Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg, said the other questions would be moot if voters decide they want the Lens.

“It” obvious to everyone, the question is do we stay with the Lens or not,” Risser told the Tribune. “Putting other unnecessary issues on the ballot just muddies the waters.”

The Legislature has tried this sort of approach before, notes the Tampa Bay Times editorial board, attempting to add constitutional amendments to the ballot when lawmakers did not like an amendment placed on the ballot by voters. It was bad policy that failed then, and there is no reason to judge the St. Petersburg situation any differently.

Where I disagree with the Times is the argument that “the biggest challenge the new St. Pete Pier continues to face is public awareness about what it actually will offer.” No, the biggest challenge the new Pier faces is whether it will be even be built in the first place. Voters must be convinced that a vote against it is actually a vote for no pier at all, as a defeat for “The Lens” will likely delay any construction for years.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.