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Fences will not come down around the Pier

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Wengay Newton will not pursue his request to remove the fence around the St. Petersburg Pier and replace it with contracted security. During a City Council meeting Thursday, Newton was told permits to demolish the inverted pyramid should be finalized within 30 days.

“We expect the terms and conditions to be agreed to and the terms to be agreed to in less than one week,” said St. Pete Public Works Administrator Mike Connors.

He said he expects to have a permit in hand for either the inverted pyramid or the entire Pier within one month.

Newton questioned Connors on his assertion before setting his concerns aside, noting that Connors had also assured council the inverted pyramid needed only city permits to be demolished. That assertion was later contradicted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Newton expressed concern that the city could be held liable should a curious resident or visitor make their way past the fences and get hurt. However, city attorneys said that liability was not likely to be a problem because anyone scaling the fence or otherwise evading it would be trespassing.

However, during the meeting he said he was more concerned about aesthetics.

“I just didn’t want that sitting down there for a long time and we’ve got an ugly green fence just sitting there,” Newton said.

Connors alleviated those concerns, saying there would be fabric going up over the fence in the coming days with photographs of all the previous Piers on top of them.

Connors also assured Newton the fences were secured to the point where they could withstand heavy wind loads. He also said there are marina security personnel inspecting the fences and making sure the site is not being accessed by mischievous explorers.

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 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

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