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The Public Needs to Push Hard for a Pier Referendum

The last thing we need is a new Pier that becomes a laughing point or that ultimately ends up on Spa Beach as a tangled mess after a hurricane finally hits here.

Choosing a new Pier design is a big decision for St. Petersburg.

There are plenty of comments out there, and mine wouldn't add much. What we need to consider now is the process and the impact of a new Pier.

The last thing we need is a new Pier that becomes a laughing point and the object of bad jokes, or a Pier that ultimately ends up on Spa Beach as a tangled mess after a hurricane finally hits here.

There is a fine line between artful attraction and something that becomes a eyesore. In my view, we've been a bit too preoccupied with touting St. Pete as an art destination. I enjoy molded glass and the occasional clock dripping off the edge of a table.

But a new city Pier that is inordinately expensive to build, exorbitantly costly to insure and maintain, and that most visitors stand on the shore and laugh at is not where we need to go.

Fifty million is the opening price. That is nowhere near what the final bill will be, if it is anything like the Dome and the International Museum projects.

Add to all of that the effort to prevent the people from actually having an opportunity to vote on what is done at the Pier, and you have the makings of a real disaster.

As it is, things are not going all that well in our city. The hometown newspaper is abandoning St. Petersburg as a namesake. It is probably just a matter of time before Major League Baseball takes the game elsewhere. And St. Petersburg was just bestowed the dubious distinction of being one of the saddest cities in the nation.

Developing a new Pier offers opportunity and risk. It is notable that there is not one Florida firm among the designers, one who might understand the environment and this community.

There are a lot of questions to be asked – and answered – before the city commits to a project of this scale and importance.

The Arts Council, the Chamber of Commerce and a few well connected downtown players have way to much say in this whole process. They don't want residents to be able to vote on it, because they know how it will go. 

After a long time working in the City Administration, I finally figured out that the people got it right a lot more often than we did. The public needs to push hard for a Pier referendum.

e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net

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.

Sierra Dante December 04, 2011 at 01:08 PM
Naturally, I enjoy St.Petersburg as an "Artist Destination", it was one of the reason why I moved here, I'm an artist. However, I am concerned that the new pier is being rushed and pushed without any community participation. I want this pier to be successful, meaning not only attractive to the tourists, but attractive to its locals in the community. It must be accessible for everybody to enjoy, fish, play, shop, listen to music, get a bite to eat, and fun for the entire family! I hope the community demands in getting involved, in hopes of making the new pier a success.
Faith Womack December 04, 2011 at 01:37 PM
You are right on with your comments.
StPete Polls December 04, 2011 at 01:53 PM
The public seems pretty clear that they want a voice on the Pier. Just take a look at the results of a phone poll of 2149 registered voters last month: http://www.stpetepolls.org/home/surveys/november-2011---general-survey Do you think the city should put the question of whether to demolish and build a new Pier on the ballot? Yes: 63.5% No: 36.5% You can even see the results of the poll right here on the patch: http://oldnortheast.patch.com/articles/st-pete-pier-designs-unveiled Since you haven't posted a link to the "Vote on the Pier" petition here it is: http://voteonthepier.com/
Linda Hersey December 04, 2011 at 07:42 PM
Thanks, St. Pete Polls for providing the link to Vote on the Pier. I had not heard about this website until now! Please contact us at Patch with your news releases.
Lynn Cissna December 05, 2011 at 07:50 PM
We saved Sunken Gardens. We saved Albert Whitted. We tried to save the Soreno Hotel. The plans submitted for the Pier are horrendous. We need to take a great big G-I-A-N-T step backwards. LET THE PEOPLE VOTE!
Lynn Cissna December 05, 2011 at 07:50 PM
We saved Sunken Gardens. We saved Albert Whitted. We tried to save the Soreno Hotel. The plans submitted for the Pier are horrendous. We need to take a great big G-I-A-N-T step backwards. LET THE PEOPLE VOTE!
Wanda Jones Henderson December 06, 2011 at 04:09 AM
ALLTHOUGHT I DO NOT LIVE IN ST. PETERSBURG ANYMORE, I ENJOY VISITING IT EACH TIME I COME BACK HOME. I THINK THE PIER IS GREAT JUST THE WAY IT IS MAYBE A FEW REPAIRS. THE 3 DESIGNS FOR THE NEW PIER ARE HIDDEOUS AND A WASTE OF THE CITYS MONEY. THIS EXISTING PIER IS A PART OF ST. PETERSBURG'S HISTORY LEAVE IT ALONE AND ALLOW THE CITIZEN'S A CHANCE FOR THEIR VOICE TO BE HEARD AND ENABLE THEM TO VOTE ON THIS MATTER. I NOW LIVE IN THE BIRMINGHAM,AL AREA AND NOT HAVING THE PIER WOULD BE LIKE BIRMINGHAM NOT HAVING A VULCAN OR NEW YORK NOT HAVING THE STATUES OF LIBERTY. NOT ONLY LET THE CITIZENS SPEAK BUT "LISTEN" TO WHAT THEY SAY WANDA J. HENDERSON BORN IN ST.PETERSBURG FLORIDA AND WAS A RESIDENT FOR 20 YEARS
D,Sage December 09, 2011 at 02:08 AM
As an artist that moved to St Petersburg because of it's many elements, one stands out, the pier. Many people from all parts of the country and the world have come to visit me here. Not on has left our city without commenting on how they love it. Most of the time i take them as a last treat, the cherry on top so to speak,....to watch the sun set from the top of the pier. Why are we looking at a plan that looks like a "Hot Wheels loop" from my childhood? It is laughable. The other plan looks like a "Miss America tiara" stretched out into the bay....silly as all heck....Then we have the retro Fort DeSoto type restroom/picnic area dome/circle things. Seriously? this is what is being considered?.....I personally think that we are at a time financially that we do not have resources to waste on a folly. I also think that the existing pier could be refurbished or improved and updatedfor much less than the waste of money the other plans would require. If they want to replace the pier, ask the people who will be paying for it for their opinion.

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