Is 2013 the last year with the Pier?

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If all goes according to the city’s plan, the St. Petersburg Pier will close for good on May 31, just five months from today. 

Last year, Council approved the closure date for the pier with demolition tentatively scheduled for August. Construction for the “Lens” is slated to begin in early 2014. 

While that is the plan, the plan is far from certain according to two petition groups hoping to hold a public referendum on the fate of the inverted pyramid. 

VoteOnthePier.com was successful in its petition drive collecting enough petitions, but council said the city was not legally required to hold a vote because the petition targeted a capital project, not an ordinance as required by the city’s charter. 

In December, VoteOnthePier and the city were ordered to have a mediation within 60 days. 

According to Kathleen Ford, the attorney representing VoteOnThePier, there is great urgency to come to an agreement and hold a public vote before it is too late. 

“At the hearing I pointed out to the Court that we moved as quickly as possible to get this issue resolved because we knew that the bridge needed to be replaced,”Ford said in a report on the lawsuit. “The Court asked if ‘time was an issue’. Unbelievably, the City attorney said no (guess who is playing the delay game here). I said we wanted to get a ballot question for the spring elections. Thus, the Court ordered mediation within 60 days.”

Council member Wengay Newton, who has consistently been the lone ‘no’ vote on the “Lens”, wrote a cautionary note on Facebook about the Pier’s effect on the 2013 city elections. 

“Let My People Vote,” Newton wrote on Facebook. “On August 27th 2013, my 50th Birthday, the Mayor and 4 Council Seats will be on the Ballot. Then we will see what the People think of this $50 Million Sidewalk to Nowhere.”

Stop the Lens is still circulating its petition throughout the city in hopes to hold a referendum. The group has not announced how many petitions it has collected so far. 

“It is not the last hoorah by any means once the people speak in a referendum vote,” Stop the Lens wrote on Facebook about the Pier and New Year’s Eve celebrations. “It surely is not going to be the LENS on our precious waterfront.”

TV pitchman and St. Petersburg resident Anthony Sullivan has united proponents of the “Lens” by creating a group called, “Wow Our Waterfront St. Pete.

Sullivan said that with two petition drives, all the media attention was focused on those who did not like the “Lens.” He hopes his group can change the conversation on the “Lens”. 

Recently Sullivan and Michael Maltzan Architecture, the design team of the “Lens”, have released promotional videos for the new St. Petersburg Pier. 

In a Dec. 17, 2012 survey from StPetePolls, less than a third of the public wants the “Lens.”

According to the latest results of their survey, only 30 percent of the 1,916 respondents think the “Lens” pier should be built. More than 55 percent do not think it should be built while 14 percent are unsure. 

Via William Mansell of Patch.

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.