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It’s official: The St. Pete Pier is being demolished

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

When the City of St. Petersburg announced demolition was going to begin on the iconic inverted pyramid that’s served as a staple of the downtown waterfront for 40 years, there was a sort of “I’ll believe when I see it” mentality.

Fences were up and the call was made, but fences had been up before and an earlier claim to demolish was thwarted when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stepped in and told the city it needed additional permitting.

Well folks, love it or hate it, the Pier is officially coming down.

Photographs taken by Pier activist Robert Neff show a hole in the southwest corner of the Pier where the bait shop was once located. The photo shows heavy construction equipment and a pile of rubble.

Pier rubble

Another photo shows a large bin to collect debris.

Pier dumpster

Demolition on the structure is expected to take about 60 days.

Neff took other photos as well showing a diver marking sea grass beds ahead of demolition of the Pier approach.

Pier diver

The inevitable is happening and it’s time to bring on the tears. Comments on the photos cross posted to the Vote on the Pier Facebook page show a chorus of discontent over the dying pier.

“I’m totally not going downtown anymore,” wrote Cedric Harris. “I just can’t spend money on businesses downtown in good conscience anymore. Downtown St. Pete can go to hell for all I care.”

The photo of Pier rubble prompted comments calling the demolition “shameful” and a “FAIL.”

“That pisses me right off,” wrote Nicholas Carnes.

“This is spitting in the face of the people of Saint Petersburg,” said Steve Galvin. “They were asked what they wanted and their voices were ignored. Shame on Kriseman for listening to Mike Connors and buying into his biased position regarding the Pier.”

Others wrote they were “heartbroken” and that the site made them want to cry. A couple even said the image made them sick to their stomach.

The city has tried to paint a happy picture of the demolition process, covering the fence blocking people from the demolition site with images of Pier Park – St. Pete Pier 2.0.

The demolition marks the continued process of building a new Pier and could come with continued pushback from inverted pyramid supporters even as their beloved icon crumbles to the floor.

A petition effort to require voter approval of downtown waterfront construction and demolition projects also crumbled Tuesday as the deadline for signatures came and went at 5 p.m.

Another effort to thwart Pier Park could also arise as tensions grow. And the city has a long way to go before the battle – one that dates back to 2003 — is over. Shovels aren’t expected to hit the dirt for construction until 2017, with a completed Pier not expected until 2018.

That’s a lot of time for more Pier drama. Don’t let the wrecking ball fool you into submission. Based on the touch and go history of replacing the inverted pyramid, opponents are likely far from lying down.

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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