Tampa Tribune ed. board calls The Lens “a mistake,” recommends voting “yes” to stop it

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According to a Tampa Tribune editorial today, the City of St. Petersburg deserves have a public pier — just not The Lens.  

As voters have their voice Aug. 27, The Lens is the issue that has “inspired more passionate opposition than vocal support.” The Michael Maltzan design never caught fire in the imagination of residents, and many were worried not to have a say on such a weighty decision.

Nothing is more iconic to St. Pete than the inverted pyramid, located in the center of the city’s “beloved waterfront.”

The Tribune feels The Lens is out of place for the area, and the editorial referred to the groundswell of emotional concern about the design’s appearance and function. The publishers are not satisfied that the amenities of the new Pier—including fishing spots, amphitheater and ice cream shop—will be enough to support year-round traffic.  

Since there was a quarter mile walk to the end of the current Pier, many visitors choose to explore the surrounding neighborhood of Beach Drive, without the need for trolleys or valet parking. Therefore, it was the location and competition, not design or construction, that were the foundation of the problems with the Pier.

The Tribune suggests a design that is simpler than The Lens, maybe even one closer to the shore. That is the biggest advantage of a second chance. Since they see building The Lens as “a mistake,” the Tribune recommends voting “yes” in the Aug. 27 referendum. 

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.