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Pier survey results buried in city’s website

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete Polls president and avid Pier process watcher Matt Florell posted a screen shot of the results from a city-run survey where the public overwhelmingly chose Destination St. Pete Pier as their clear favorite. In his Facebook post, Florell noted that the results had inexplicably been removed from the city’s website.

They haven’t.

However, the results are now considerably harder to locate on the city’s website dedicated to all things Pier.

Up until this weekend, the results were front and center of the site’s homepage. That info-graphic has been replaced with an announcement that three teams have been shortlisted.

pier survey results

Below that announcement is another regarding the Pier survey, but there is no link to the results. Instead, to find the information, one has to click on the “news” tab at the top of the homepage, scroll down past two videos and click on the link to the release announcing the results. That link re-directs the clicker to the city’s main website and away from the Pier website.

This is curious. The change in scenery on newstpetePier.com comes after a marathon meeting Friday in which the Pier Selection Committee nearly eliminated the most popular design, Destination St. Pete Pier.

After more than 12-hours, the meeting ended with the group unanimously decided to hold off final ranking of the designs until a later date to be determined. During that meeting they will hear from architects to answer some lingering questions about the designs – namely Destination St. Pete and some possible transportation problems.

The team likely would have ranked Destination St. Pete Pier last in the group of three, essentially eliminating it, had it not been for dozens of speakers during public comment urging the non-elected board to hold off.

Some of those speakers included likely city council candidate Ed Montanari, former mayoral candidate and vocal critic of the city’s previous Pier design competition Kathleen Ford and Destination St. Pete Pier’s lead architect and the man behind the Dali Museum, Yann Weymouth.

Numerous people lamented the board was ignoring the will of the public and cited results of the survey as proof.

So, if the city wants to boot Destination in favor of the fourth-ranked design, Alma, hiding traces of that survey would be a pretty likely move.

If there was intent here, it was pretty smart. Had the results been removed entirely it would have raised quite a bit of speculation about Destination St. Pete naysayers within the city ranks and whether or not their was some fishy business going on at City Hall.

It also would have been moot. Google search results for “Pier survey results” yield a Tampa Bay Times article announcing them as the top hit.

Instead, they’re just not in plain site. Finding them is now an effort.

The weekend following the selection committee’s near murder of Destination St. Pete has had those in the know buzzing about whether or not the city is going to wind itself back into a referendum situation the likes of the 2013 Lens debacle. Questions are floating about Selection Committee Chair and Public Works Administrator Mark Connors’ obvious infatuation with the Alma and clear disdain for anything preserving the inverted pyramid.

Not to mention speculation that the Gonzmart family which owns the Columbia restaurants, including the one that was in the current Pier, has had a hand in the whole affair.

Clearly hiding the public’s will is the best way to brush these concerns under the rug.

According to the Mayor’s communications director, Ben Kirby, there’s nothing much to explain. He said the results from the meeting were just added to the website so residents could see that first because it’s most recent.

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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