St. Petersburg moves forward on new pier design

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - St. Petersburg City Council members voted Thursday afternoon to move forward with the first payment of $1.5 million to draw up an official schematic design for the future of the St. Petersburg Pier.

They met in a packed room at City Hall for the entirety of the morning and afternoon Thursday as they heard from both sides of concerned citizens groups who either support or oppose The Lens design.

More than 50 people took turns speaking at the podium in the city council chamber Thursday morning.

"Please stop this process!" shouted Carol Cowan. "I'm not against building a facility. I'm against this awful design."

Cowan and others affiliated with the group "Stop the Lens" plead for council members to slow down a process that started years ago, and for some, feels like it will never end.

"Failure to move ahead on the Pier project would lead to a padlock gate leading to a desolate building at the end of a long road on our prized downtown waterfront," said Willi Rudowsky. "Is that really the image we want visitors to see when they come to St. Petersburg?"

After nearly 6 hours, council members finally voted in favor to start paying developers $1.65 million to begin working on schematic designs for The Lens. It's the first installment of $5.4 million to developers in order to begin construction on The Lens.

"Do we really want to go for years with a derelict structure as the center of our downtown waterfront?" asked Hal Friedman.

Opponents likened city council members and Mayor Bill Foster to criminals, with a cardboard cut-out design outside City Hall that depicts the elected officials with devil's horns, an orange jumpsuit, and taxpayer money in their hand-cuffed fists. They're painstakingly close to rounding up enough signatures to have a Pier design referendum added to next year's election ballot, which would give voters the opportunity to choose whether they would like to preserve the current Pier design, or knock it down and start over with something new.

Those fighting for the referendum addition believe any move to pay for construction immediately is a grave mistake because voters may choose something different next year. The expense would then turn into a million dollar waste of tax dollars.

"If you close the Pier down and you try to demolish it, I will be there standing in front of the equipment and you will be arresting me every time I get back out of jail," said Tyler Mitchell.
St. Petersburg City Council members voted Thursday afternoon to move forward with the first payment of $1.5 million to draw up an official schematic design for the future of the St. Petersburg Pier.

They met in a packed room at City Hall for the entirety of the morning and afternoon Thursday as they heard from both sides of concerned citizens groups who either support or oppose The Lens design.

More than 50 people took turns speaking at the podium in the city council chamber Thursday morning.

"Please stop this process!" shouted Carol Cowan. "I'm not against building a facility. I'm against this awful design."

Cowan and others affiliated with the group "Stop the Lens" plead for council members to slow down a process that started years ago, and for some, feels like it will never end.

"Failure to move ahead on the Pier project would lead to a padlock gate leading to a desolate building at the end of a long road on our prized downtown waterfront," said Willi Rudowsky. "Is that really the image we want visitors to see when they come to St. Petersburg?"

After nearly 6 hours, council members finally voted in favor to start paying developers $1.65 million to begin working on schematic designs for The Lens. It's the first installment of $5.4 million to developers in order to begin construction on The Lens.

"Do we really want to go for years with a derelict structure as the center of our downtown waterfront?" asked Hal Friedman.

Opponents likened city council members and Mayor Bill Foster to criminals, with a cardboard cut-out design outside City Hall that depicts the elected officials with devil's horns, an orange jumpsuit, and taxpayer money in their hand-cuffed fists. They're painstakingly close to rounding up enough signatures to have a Pier design referendum added to next year's election ballot, which would give voters the opportunity to choose whether they would like to preserve the current Pier design, or knock it down and start over with something new.

Those fighting for the referendum addition believe any move to pay for construction immediately is a grave mistake because voters may choose something different next year. The expense would then turn into a million dollar waste of tax dollars.

"If you close the Pier down and you try to demolish it, I will be there standing in front of the equipment and you will be arresting me every time I get back out of jail," said Tyler Mitchell.

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