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City officials: Downtown waterfront petition effort dies by the clock

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Inverted Pyramid preservationists may have lost any hope of thwarting demolition of their beloved icon when pieces of the Pier began being reduced to rubble this week. Now their hopes at avoiding unwanted demolition or construction projects on downtown waterfront have also evaporated.

According to St. Pete Communications Director Ben Kirby, the deadline to turn in petitions for a petition effort that would have asked voters whether they should have a say in downtown major waterfront projects passed at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday.

Pier activist Tom Lambdon, the man behind the petition effort, says the information coming out of the Mayor’s office is not accurate and assured SaintPetersblog he is not only moving forward with gathering signatures, but that news of the Pier demolition has hastened efforts.

A successful Pier petition would place a question on the ballot asking voters whether or not the city should have to go to voters to decide on construction and demolition projects – like the Pier and Pier Park.

Because demolition of the inverted pyramid was imminent when City Council approved the demolition contract, there was little hope at that point of saving the current Pier. But it’s remotely possible the effort could have affected construction plans for Pier Park.

If the petition window is indeed closed, as city officials argue, the city is unlikely to face any substantive hurdles. They will, however, likely face staunch opposition as the Pier Park design is more fully vetted and catered to meet budget and planning requirements.

Demolition began this week on the inverted pyramid. Photos taken of the building show a portion of the Southwest corner already reduced to rubble. The complete demolition of the inverted pyramid is expected to take about 60-days.

Completion of Pier Park is expected in 2018 with no ground being broken until 2017.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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