St. Petersburg, Fla. - Inside St. Petersburg City Council chamber they sat color coded. Those in favor of the St. Pete pier project dubbed "The Lens" were in blue with tee-shirts reading "Make Lens, Not War." Those opposed, the "Stop the Lens" group, wore red.
"You either like it, or you don't. That's really what all of this boils down to," said St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster.
For several hours, all in attendance watched the St. Pete City Council mull over whether to move forward with the $50 million project. On the table Thursday was a decision to give $1.5 million to the architect for the next design phase.
But Thursday afternoon, in a vote of 5-3, council voted to delay a decision for another two weeks. Those in the majority said they needed more time to review a lengthy report on the project that they were handed on Friday.
After the vote, Foster - a long time proponent of the project - said his administration will do what it has to, but this project is still moving forward.
"Our job is just to make sure that council is comfortable, they're informed, they have all the facts, and they know where the money is going," Foster said. "We're going to move ahead even if it's by inches. You take a step forward and one back, but you keep moving the ball."
"Watch it, advocate for it, campaign for it, and with luck it will happen," said another Lens supporter, Hal Freedman.
However, there is another potential delay down the road.
If the thousands of signatures on the petition organized by "Stop the Lens" get turned in and verified, it will almost certainly become a voter referendum in the August primary.
"We didn't come all this way just to stumble and fall at the finish line," said Bud Risser with Stop the Lens. "We're talking about honest-to-goodness issues that should be resolved by everybody before we spend $50 million."'
According to Foster, the plans for the old pier remain the same. It is scheduled to close May 31.
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