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Survey shows overwhelming support for holding referendum on Pier choices

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete voters overwhelmingly think the city should place a referendum on the ballot to pick a new Pier, according to a new survey from St. Pete Polls.

When asked whether City Council should “call for a referendum where the voters would decide their favorite of the top two designs” more than 63 percent indicated “Yes” on the question while only 32 percent said they didn’t want a referendum.

The information comes as City Council prepares to vote on the Pier Selection Committee’s final ranking where Pier Park tops the list.

Councilmembers are facing mounting pressure from supporters of the committee’s second-ranked team, Destination St. Pete Pier, to vote down the ranking.

They’re also expecting a motion from council member Wengay Newton to put the question to the voters.

The poll results are in line with previous polls in which a majority of voters indicated Destination St. Pete Pier and its planned renovation of the iconic inverted pyramid. Supporters of that design will no doubt reference these latest poll results.

The results may also be contradictory. Of the 951 registered voters polled, 61 percent say they approve of how Mayor Rick Kriseman has handled the Pier selection process compared to just 39 percent who disapprove.

Kriseman has consistently supported the process and asked constituents to do the same. Yet he also famously said City Council should do what voters elected them to do, “build a damn Pier.”

By that reasoning, many of the same voters who want a referendum to allow voters to decide on a new Pier are also supporting the same mayor discouraging that.

Regardless, the poll looks good for Kriseman. In that same poll, nearly 74 percent of voters polled indicated they approved of Kriseman’s job performance.

Meanwhile only 52 percent approve of City Council’s performance.

The numbers seem to contradict dialogue surrounding the Pier in which Kriseman has been consistently critiqued for the Pier process and the decisions made by his chosen selection committee.

Council is expected to vote up or down the final rankings sent to them by the selection committee at their meeting on Thursday. That meeting is set to begin at 8:30 a.m. Large numbers of supporters for both Pier Park and Destination St. Pete Pier are expected to show up to speak during public comment.

The St. Pete Polls survey was conducted with a 3.2 percent margin at a 95 percent confidence level.

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 [email protected]

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