Fight at city hall after re-vote privatizes Baywalk sidewalk

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A fight broke out at St. Petersburg's city hall after a re-vote on the controversial Baywalk sidewalk privatization issue.

Today the council revoted with a 5-3 vote for the sidewalk, a popular place for protesters and teens to gather, to be made private so that people may not loiter there.  Herb Polson was the Councilmember who switched his vote from 2 weeks ago, when the Council deadlocked at 4-4.

After the vote was taken, with Herb Polson changing his vote from no to yes for the privatization, two men started a brawl. According to Baynews 9 both men were arrested. They reported that one man was the brother of council member Bill Dudley.

Members of the council who voted for the privatization said that to not do so would basically kill BayWalk, along with the millions of dollars the city has invested in the complex.

Mayor Baker said that the survival of the complex would be remote if the sidewalk was not vacated because new business owners would not move in, and with only 14 percent capacity now, Muvico would struggle to stay open.

What many say they really want is a third option, which is seemingly impossible for everyone to either come up with or agree upon.

Those against privatizing the sidewalk that is in front of the main entrance to Baywalk say that it is unconstitutional, violating first amendment rights to free speech and assembly.

Those for the vacation say that it is vital to business and commerce that cusomers can visit Baywalk without having to be hassled by protesters and unruly teenagers.

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