David McKalip says St. Pete should stop spending money on the Lens until referendum happens

It should be noted, however, that there is no measure to be put on a ballot. Yet.

The Tampa Tribune reported last week that Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg said they will have enough signatures later this month to force a referendum on the Pier.

The group's efforts have led the Council to hold a special meeting next week (April 18) to deal with engineering and safety concerns raised by Lens critics.

Last week, the city won a battle against another group that was determined to stop the efforts to raze the current structure: Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Jack Day ruled against former St. Petersburg City Council member Kathleen Ford, who was representing the group VoteOnThePier.com. The organization's members collected a sufficient number of signatures to put a measure on the ballot, but the City Council rejected their attempt, and the judge agreed with their legal posture on the issue.

In his press release, McKalip said his opponent in the District 4 race — activist Darden Rice — "has never appeared to take a position" on the Pier, and he is calling on her and all candidates for Council to demand that it stop spending on the contract.

When contacted, Rice refuted McKalip's comment, saying that her position on the Pier is "clearly stated" on her website (VoteDardenRice.com), which says:

I support the people in their right to vote on this issue. I also strongly support a vision for a comprehensive waterfront plan that fundamentally includes civic engagement, public dialogue, and a healthy exchange of ideas. Most of the Pier issues will likely be resolved before I take office. The Pier is an important part of our St. Pete history and has tremendous symbolic meaning for our residents and businesses. I believe that the City has an opportunity to improve the way in which it engages the public in important projects such as the Pier and other Waterfront initiatives. Public discourse will increase trust between the city’s residents and government, and provide a better process for exchange of ideas. I support meaningful engagement as an early part of the process of change, not as the primary fix after the process has gone awry.

McKalip said his idea is to have the city lease the Pier out to a private group. In his release he said that more information is listed on his blog SunBeamTimes.com. Unfortunately, it was not working when we tried to access it.

  • David McKalip

Today, District 4 City Council candidate David McKalip said that he is calling on the St. Petersburg City Council to refrain from spending any more money on the Lens design concept — which would replace the current Pier — until voters get a chance to weigh in on the issue on a referendum later this summer.

Currently the city has committed $1.7 million in pre-construction services for the L.A. based architectural firm led by Michael Maltzan, as well as to Skanska, the local construction company involved with building the Lens. The next allocation of $1.5 million toward the design is scheduled to go before the Council next month, but McKalip said that vote should not happen. He said the city should delay all efforts and concentrate on putting up a ballot measure on August 27.

"The citizens are mobilizing to get the vote they deserve on the Pier, and the city should not waste money on an architect for a Pier project that may never get built until they have heard from the citizens," McKalip said in a statement.

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