Tuesday St. Petersburg overwhelming voted to cancel the city’s contract with Michael Maltzan Architecture for the “Lens” pier design by a 63.35 percent vote.
The cancelation of the “Lens” pier design comes after years of planning and meetings to select a replacement for the now-closed St. Petersburg Pier.
St. Petersburg residents got their first look at the “Lens” nearly two years ago when an international pier design competition released three pier design finalists: The “Lens,” the “Wave" and the “Eye.”
In January 2012, a five-member pier jury, including council member Leslie Curran and County Commissioner Ken Welch, chose the “Lens” over the other two pier designs.
Contract negotiations between Maltzan and the city began immediately.
While public approval of the “Lens” design was greater than the other two pier options, in the public’s eyes, there always should have been a "none of the above" option.
Two public petitions were launched: One to save the existing inverted pyramid and another to stop the “Lens.”
VoteOnThePier actually began its petition before well before anyone in St. Petersburg had heard of the “Lens” or Maltzan.
Its petition drive was successfully completed in summer 2012, but the city said the petition was poorly constructed and legally did not bind the city to take any action.
City officials said St. Petersburg’s City Charter allows for petitions regarding city ordinances, not capital projects.
In August 2012, city council voted to not put anything on the November general election ballot. Less than a month later local attorney Kathleen Ford filed suit against the city and on behalf of the VoteOnThePier petitioners.
Following a mediation between Ford and the city, Judge Jack Day ruled the VoteOnthePier petition did not legally require the city to do anything.
Before the city and Ford ever began its mediation another group launched a pier petition drive. In September 2012, Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg launched a Stop the Lens petition drive.
Led by residents Bud Riser, Fred Whaley and Bill Ballard, Stop the Lens’ petition drive was successfully completed in May.
Learning from the flaws of the VoteOnthePier petition, Stop the Lens crafted a petition that, if approved, would create an ordinance to cancel the city’s contract to build the “Lens.”
The ordinance did not touch on the future of the St. Petersburg Pier, which shut down May 31.