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New poll shows trouble ahead if St. Pete decision makers reject “Destination St. Pete Pier”

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

A new St. Pete Polls survey released overnight shows that if St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman’s Pier Selection Committee does not choose the most popular pier design from a recent survey conducted by the city, the City Council should reject that choice.

When asked directly if the selection committee opts not to choose the Destination St. Pete Pier design, should the Council reject that decision? 48.3 percent of St. Pete residents agree with that statement. 36 percent disagree, and 16 percent are unsure.

The contentious decision on how to replace the aging inverted pyramid structure has been an ongoing saga in St. Petersburg for years now, and appears to be as vexing an issue for Mayor Kriseman as it was for his predecessor, Bill Foster.

Last week the Mayor addressed the City Council, informing them that “not everyone will like the final decision, no matter what design it is,” adding that “We also knew that a long time ago.”

The Mayor also reminded the council that the while the residents survey was designed to make the process more inclusive (an important element), it was only one of six criteria that the committee has in front of them to select a design. The others include the construction budget, operational costs, program desires, environmental awareness and whether it can get permits.

In a marathon meeting back in March, the Mayor’s selection committee chose three designs to move forward, placing the Alma design at the top its list. Pier Park was second, and Destination St. Pete Pier third.

But in the non-binding public survey, Alma came in fifth, with Destination St. Pete Pier at the top.

The new St. Pete Poll confirms that survey, showing that Destination St. Pete Pier remains by far the most popular design with the public at 39 percent support. Pier Park comes in next with 21 percent.

20 percent say they don’t have a preference.

Just 10 percent say they prefer Alma.

Mayor Kriseman also drew some headlines last week when he said that it was time for the city to move forward on the issue.

“The public just wants their elected officials to do what they elected them to do,” Kriseman said. “To build a damn pier.”

The survey says that the public is ambivalent about that stance: 48 percent agree with the mayor that it’s time to pick a design, but 52 percent say they disagree with the remark.

The Mayor’s selection committee will try again on April 23 to rank a No. 1 proposal. It will meet at 3 p.m. with representatives of the three design team finalists to discuss specific questions, followed by a meeting at 6 p.m. to rank the proposals and take public comment.

The poll was conducted of 686 voters who said they were familiar with the Pier Design Competition process. It has a 3.7 percent margin of error.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at [email protected]

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