Rick Kriseman reiterates his opposition to the Lens

But all bets are off if the Lens goes down to defeat on Aug. 27, as activists opposed to the design successfully gathered enough signatures to place a referendum on the ballot that will ask St. Pete citizens if they want to maintain current plans.

Kriseman said if the Lens loses, Mayor Foster and the City Council should wait until after the November election — when Kriseman hopes he's the next mayor — to decide what to do with The Pier.

Kriseman said that if elected — but before he officially takes over in January of 2014 — he would appoint a group of community leaders with "proven track records" to lead an expedited process that builds on the work done by the original task force, but adds another round of citizens input, via town hall meetings and social media. He wants recommendations from that task force to be submitted by April of 2014, with the new designs sent to council by September of 2014.

And if it's up to Kriseman, there won't be any Los Angeles-based architects (like Maltzan) designing the new Pier. He said he will "explore the possibility" of limiting the competition to local or Florida-based firms "who have a better understanding of St. Petersburg, its history and its people."

The controversy over what to do with the Pier has been the most covered story in St. Petersburg throughout the past year and has become a major issue in Bill Foster's bid for re-election. In addition to Kriseman, former City Council woman Kathleen Ford has also entered the race, and according to some polls, is leading the three- way contest with a bulk of her support no doubt residing on her strong opposition to the Lens. The Aug. 27 primary will knock out one candidate from the race.

Last month, Kriseman — a former City Council member who served in the state Legislature for six years — told CL that he thought it was a mistake by Mayor Bill Foster to close down the Pier at the end of May.

  • Rick Kriseman

Although the candidates running for office in St. Petersburg insist there are a plethora of neighborhood issues that haven't received much attention in the nascent campaign, the Pier remains a priority topic going into the Aug. 27 primary election.

This morning in front of City Hall, mayoral candidate Rick Kriseman reaffirmed his opposition to the Lens, as well as presented his own plan for what should happen if the Michael Maltzan plan goes down to defeat later this summer.

"The first step is easy," Kriseman told reporters. "We should reopen the pier to pedestrian traffic while the inverted pyramid structure is closed. Residents and visitors should be able to utilize the surrounding area for sightseeing, fitness, or fishing until construction on the next pier begins."

The Pier officially closed on Friday, May 31. Demolition is scheduled to begin this fall.

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