Today, the St. Petersburg City Council opted to delay for two weeks whether or not to spend $1.5 million on the next phase of the the Lens design to replace the Pier.
Councilman Jim Kennedy made the motion to delay, saying he didn't have sufficient time to examine the more than 400-page report distributed late Friday by Michael Maltzan Architecture. Other members of the council agreed that they had little time to review the new additions. The final vote was 5-3, with council members Leslie Curran, Jeff Danner and Wengay Newton disagreeing.
According to a contract the city has with Michael Maltzan Architecture, the designer of the Lens, the next payment is due today, May 2. However concerns about a referendum that could ultimately stop the project from going forward were sufficient enough to make today's vote highly anticipated and uncertain, in what has become one of the most controversial issues in recent city history.
The rivalry was apparent in the city council chambers, where supporters of the Lens wore blue t-shirts, and opponents wore red. At one point, St. Pete Chamber of Commerce head Chris Steinocher said, "My heart hurts," because of the intense conflict about the Pier's future.
"This is crazy. This is sad," he bemoaned.
But one of the Lens supporters, Councilman Danner, respectfully disagreed with Steinocher, saying the conflict is a manifest example of democracy in action.