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St. Pete gasp moment: Pier Park critics just gave kudos to the city

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

After months of writing about all the criticism thrust at St. Pete officials regarding the Pier, the unthinkable has finally happened. The resoundingly critical “WOW the Lens SUCKS” Facebook page finally has some praise.

“Update. After checking Squaremouth’s Pier cams, they now have an FAA approved light on the remaining core column. Kudos!”

It’s perhaps the first time commenters on that site have had anything nice to say at all about the city and its Pier and represents what hopefully is a change in dialogue.

After a post criticized the city for lacking lighting to keep pilots flying into and out of Albert Whitted safe earlier this week, it appears the problem was solved the very next day.

This is how it should works. A valid problem surfaced and a solution was reached the next day. And the swift action was recognized by the same group that calls Pier Park “Potty Park” and frequently calls the mayor names.

What this hopefully represents is a detraction from the negative attitudes of a handful of residents unhappy with plans to build Pier Park to a more constructive dialogue that will yield a Pier all residents can enjoy.

In the coming months residents will have a chance to participate in public forums sharing their ideas and concerns with the city and designers to further completion of the final design.

While the design concept is already in place, ASD Architecture hired by the city to design Pier Park will still be fine tuning details. That includes things like potential permitting issues and tweaking various placement of amenities.

Many of the problems Pier Park critics have lamented since the design was chosen have been related to issues that will be addressed during the final design process already underway.

If Pier Park critics can take away anything from these two posts it is that there is a way to have a positive dialogue and get things done. Pouting and stomping feet does little to help any process, but engaging in civil conversation does.

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 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

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