Thursday February 2, 2012 is a big day in St. Petersburg. That is the day City Council will vote on accepting "The Lens" design of Michael Maltzan Architecture for the Pier and move forward with a contract.
The right vote is NO.
There are so many reasons why NO is the right vote. There are serious questions about cost, functionality, practicality, environmental impacts and the list goes on.
By the time it becomes apparent that "The Lens" is an ecological, marketing and cost boondoggle, many of these Council members will be gone, leaving subsequent City Councils saddled with yet another financial drain.
A lot of people have invested a lot of time and energy to get us to this point. The problem is the guidance was too narrow, the input top restricted and the focus too biased.
There is precedence for throwing out proposals and starting over. The City throws out bids all the time.
There are numerous parliamentary ways to put the brakes on this proposal. Table it, request more information and detailed study on costs and impacts or when the motion is made to accept the design and go forward, just vote NO.
The effort here is to get City Council to take a series of seeming harmless baby steps in the direction of the process, only to find just a ways down the road they are inexorably locked in and the way out is more costly and onerous than going forward. City Council needs to avoid this all too often used ploy and simply vote NO.
Amid the hue and cry of those who would benefit most, it will take courage to cast a NO vote. It will take fortitude to deal with the criticism, it will take wisdom to see through "The Lens" clearly, it will just take raw courage to vote this thing down.
St. Petersburg does not need a monument to what divides us. We don't need a symbol of what we don't agree on. We need a Pier and a waterfront we can all be proud of.
The Architect would like the project, his partners, engineers, contractors and consultants would like the business. My guess is very few of them live here, vote here and pay taxes here.
What the public would like is simply a Pier we can all love.
The public needs a voice in the final decision. We should trust the people that pay the bills and give them a voice.
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