'Stop the Lens' claims 17,000 verified signatures

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -  

"Stop, stop what you're doing please," said Carol Gray, owner of Crystal Mirage Gallery, a business of twenty-five years at the St. Petersburg Pier.  "Listen to the people."  
 
Gray was one of the first to sign mounting petitions aimed at stopping the Lens replacement design of the St. Pete pier.  She expressed concerns over the lack of retail space in the new design as well as the $50 million price tag.    
 
"If we are going to lose our precious pier, it needs to be more than what that Lens is," Gray said. 
 
The group protesting the Lens, called "Stop the Lens," said they've just verified enough petition signatures, by cross-checking the names with the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections' records, to put the issue to a referendum in St. Pete's next primary. 
 
"We crossed the 17,000 mark.  We needed 15,000," said Bud Risser with Stop the Lens.  "In August, they will have a chance to express themselves at the voting booth, and that's really what we've been after." 
 
Risser said the next step is to file with the Supervisor of Elections Office. 
 
St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster, a longtime proponent of the Lens design, described the newly verified signatures as "expected" and echoed his stand on the project from recent city council meetings. "If signatures are presented that are verified requiring us to vote on this particular design, then we'll stop the process as well and let the people vote."
 
On Thursday, the city council will vote on the release of $1.5 million for additional drawings of the Lens, as well as additional engineering studies.
 
For more information about Stop the Lens, visit stopthelens.com .
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