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The LENS - The Real Game

These big guys know what's going on, and they know they must get in and get as much money as they can before the whole project comes down like a card house.

You got a brief glimpse of how things are going to go on this project when the LENS team tried to slip an additional $60,000 into an appropriation of $50,000 for Skanska, the construction management company. 

Seems like a small amount in a $50 million dollar project. But it begins to set the tone for how staff will operate and how this project will be managed. The boys kind of got caught with their hand in the cookie jar. The arguments were lame, the reasoning just plain stupid but the effort was very enlightening. 

Never mind the fact that Skanska is a big outfit and they can't hardly sneeze for $50 million. Everyone has to know their plan is to make money on scope creep. That's a nice title for finding things that need to "managed" or "reviewed" that are just outside the scope of the original agreement, therefore requiring a change order costing more money. You better have some loose change lying around to keep the Skanska folks moving: ergo the $60,000. 

The current City staff dealing with the likes of Skanska is a lot like David and Goliath, only David left the slingshot at home. 

What is so disturbing about this is it continues the trend of managing this project from the dark side. Hiding things in the detail, hoping they won't get caught. The whole Pier effort started off this way and it will continue this way until the public puts an end to it once and for all. 

Bringing in world class contractors for a project like this is a good idea, but sneaking them in the door is a whole other issue. These big guys know what's going on, and they know they must get in and get as much money as they can before the whole project comes down like a card house. 

Keeping the staff, contractors, vendors in check in a project starting off like this one is all but impossible. With all of the maneuvering to keep this project alive and out of public view, look for a lot of hidden appropriations, unannounced deals and reports that are kept from the public. 

Herein lies the problem. Every couple of weeks, staff quietly puts another seemingly small agreement or contract in place. It's like a spider spinning a complex web. At some point the thing is just too complex and convoluted to take apart. That's the staff's goal, that's the objective and it always has been. 

If the LENS cannot be stopped, there needs to be a full time, independent auditor assigned to this debacle right now -- someone who reports to City Council and Council alone every month. 

e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend request

Have your say. Be sure to get a petition for the Pier Referendum and complete it properly. Information at Stop The Lens.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

cherylwithac October 13, 2012 at 06:33 PM
My fond memories of the current pier involve feeding the pelicans fish out of a plastic bucket and taking the Dolphin Cruise (the captain provides an educational and enjoyable narrative--go while you still can!). They are just simple activities and not expensive, but that's why they are so enjoyable and relaxing. Will the Lens offer such activities, or will the focus be on boutique shops and expensive restaurants for wealthy tourists and the millionaires who live part-time on Beach Drive? I suspect the latter. Such venues are not memorable like the current activities that the pier offers. That is why the Lens will fail, particularly with the full-time residents of St. Petersburg. It seems to me that the Lens is a white elephant in the making.
Rider October 13, 2012 at 09:06 PM
There are lots of estimates out there that are in direct contrast to the ones used by the city to justify tearing the pier down. Former Mayor Baker started the process of securing TIF money to replace the only part that needs replacing, the approach. After the new adminstration took over, all of a sudden, the costs to replace the approach escalated beyond belief and the caissons supporting the pier were deemed degraded beyond refurbishment. What is going on? Where is the investigative report on this? Love this article, don't get me wrong as it sparked these questions.....
N.A.W. October 13, 2012 at 09:46 PM
The tif financing put in place by Baker was to replace the approach, AND pier head(the road and decking around the inverted pyramid), replace the retail, and refurbish the inverted pyramid. You are correct, I simply wanted to add these further details...also, even the mayor has admitted publicly, in chambers, that the caissons supporting the inverted pyramid are fine. Indeed, WHAT IS GOING ON? Is it criminal? Shouldn't there be some kind of investigation? If it walks like a duck....
Jbird October 14, 2012 at 11:39 AM
I saw the presentation by the architectural firm for The Lens, on Thursday at the Collieseum. I have not spoken to single resident of St. Petersburg who likes the “design.” It is insulting that the elected officials of this City would expect us to pay $50 million for something that is absolutely useless. One percent of the residents may use this if you walk, jog, bike or fish. It is tacky at best to have vending trucks or hot dog kiosks as the food establishments on the Lens. 24’ wide isn’t wide enough for anything. There isn’t enough parking in St. Petersburg as it is and you are willing to give up 30,000 parking spaces. Just how and where do you expect residents and tourists to park so they can enjoy this beautification project.
Carlos E. Odell,P.E. October 25, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Has the demolition cost been assesed on this? The enviromental permit alone will be major. The approach can be saved by installing a Half Diameter Culvert between each column bent and filling with a bulk concrete pour. The arch looking effect would give a Medeterraneum look.

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