ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Now what happens?
That's the question many St. Petersburg residents are asking after Tuesday's vote to stop construction of "The Lens." It was the pier designed to replace the iconic inverted pyramid that stands now.
According to city leaders, the demolition process on the existing pier was to begin around the end of August.
Also a result of the election, a runoff. Republican incumbent St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster and Democrat Rick Kriseman will meet head-to-head in November; but the road to the polls later this year has to go through the pier and the pier's future.
"I think people just assumed we would come up with something that they would like," said Mayor Foster. "Well now they are all at the table and they all have opinions."
Challenger Rick Kriseman says there are a couple reasons why "The Lens" design didn't fly with the majority of voters. Of the more than 50,000 votes casts, 63-percent of voters turned the new pier design down.
"What we got was a structure that was designed first and then we tried to make it do what the public wanted it to do after the fact," says Kriseman.
And after dozens of public comment meetings, a handful of designs and more than a year of debate, many think the city is back to square one when it comes to replacing the existing pier. Mayor Foster says that's just not true.
"The 8-28 Alliance Committee is going to finalize a proposal for design and selection of a new pier. I've read the preliminary draft and I like it. We're not starting at ground zero, we're starting well ahead."
Many voters want to know why the city won't just refurbish the inverted pyramid which closed May 31.
"It would cost us $50 million to $60 million to refurbish it," says Mayor Foster. "It just doesn't make sense. It's not cost effective. We would have to make so many changes to bring that building up to current codes."
Which is something Mayor Foster and Kriseman agree on. They both say the inverted pyramid was great, but now it's time to move on. But where the city moves is still in the air.
The 828 Alliance Committee was assembled by Mayor Foster to help move plans forward the day after the vote; whether voters voted yes to the new pier or turned it down. According to the Mayor's office, that committee is comprised of supporters as well as those who opposed The Lens design.
The Committee is scheduled to meet at 4:00 at City Hall to move forward with new plans. The meeting is open to the public.
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Last week, the I-Team was there when 99-year-old Willi Berchau was released from Florida's guardianship program after a three year court battle.