After languishing for four years under the lazy leadership of Mayor Bill Foster, the St. Petersburg City Council is finally cranking out some solutions to the myriad number of issues facing the ‘burg.
The Council addressed so many issues during an 11-hour marathon session on Thursday, that Tampa Bay Times City Hall reporter Kameel Stanley’s story about the day’s meeting reads like a play-by-play at an auction.
Here are my thoughts on which developments are good, which are bad, and which are just plain ugly.
Issue: The council moved forward with a plan to extend the current management contract for the Walter Fuller sports complex even as members left open the door for philanthropist Bill Edwards or other interested parties to take over in the future. … The council made no changes to the management contract at Al Lang, which the baseball commission also runs. But it did approve spending $250,000 to renovate the turf, in response to a complaint by Edwards.
Analysis: Good, but this could get ugly. Something has to be done about the outdated facilities at Al Lang. Actually, something has to be done with Al Lang stadium. If there is no real baseball being played there, room should be made for some other kind of development, whether it be soccer or another park. But a monument to days gone by is not a good use of such valuable waterfront property. The situation at Al Lang could quickly become another Pier-like quagmire for City Hall.
Issue: The council unanimously approved new rules on Thursday that will allow patrons to bring their own beer, wine, hard cider or malted beverages on open-air pedal-powered party buses.
Analysis: Bad. City leaders don’t have to say ‘Yes’ to every proposal that would allow revelers to imbibe more alcohol. And I say that as the guy who helped lead the charge for a later ‘last call’ in St. Pete. Bars are bars and bikes are bikes and the two don’t need to mix.
Issue: The city will move forward with a downtown waterfront master plan and will pay AECOM $495,000 to create it over the next several months.
Analysis: Bad. Rick Kriseman and Bill Dudley might as well take 495,000 dollar bills, load them into a helicopter and dump them over Sundial, that’s how much of a waste it is to pay a consultant to come up with a master plan for downtown. It’s doubtful the consultants will come up with anything realistic and even if they do, it will be rejected by too many residents for any idea to be developed. Look for a final report chock full of platitudes and ideas long since discarded.
Issue: St. Petersburg will be the largest city in the county to offer median sponsorships. The council voted to allow businesses and neighborhood groups that want street-level advertising a way to pay for signs that will be placed at various medians.
Analysis: Good. I can just see it now … “Welcome to 22nd Avenue North, sponsored by SaintPetersBlog.com.”
Issue: The council unanimously approved a $182,500 incentive package for a mystery company considering moving its headquarters to St. Petersburg. It is described as a global “business process outsourcing and product support” company and would create 65 new high-paying jobs.
Analysis: Good, right? City attracts 65 upper middle-class jobs to the city at a cost of about 3K per. The local economy will make that back in no time, so long as jobs materialize and stay in the city.