St.Pete City Council to consider referendum vote on The Pier

“With 20,000 people signing signatures, we are going to find a way, I think, to slow the process down, and then we are going to have to engage the community, in some fashion, in a more robust way” Said council member Karl Nurse, who voted in support of the ordinance.

Not everyone was in agreement, however. The vote was reached after a lengthy back and forth among council members.

Council Chair Leslie Curran said that although she respected the passion of those who signed the petition, she felt the ordinance would be unfair to those who participated in the lengthy public input process since 2009. "Those who participated in that process also need to be represented” said Curran,” those who played by the rules of going through that process, seeing the outcome, knowing this is what we were going to do, need to be heard”

Earlier in the meeting, Council Member Wengay Newton, who has been an advocate for Save the Pier’s efforts, expressed skepticism following a presentation of the Masterplan for Downtown St.Petersburg waterfront.

“The Lens is not a Pier,” said Newton. He also questioned the practicality of the depiction of an area of clear blue water and coral reefs, which he called “Sea-World like”, that would rest within the looping boardwalks of the new Pier. Newton said he has swam and crabbed in the water surrounding the pier, and it had always been a murky green.

“Why do you keep showing people water that cannot be?” asked Newton. Lisa Wanamaker, who led the presentation, said that marine science representatives that they have met with have been very encouraging of the area.

As is, the current inverted pyramid building at the pier is set to close in May of 2013, demolished by late 2013, and its replacement pier design, commonly know is the lens, is expected to be completed by 2015.

The St. Petersburg City Council voted on Thursday to consider an ordinance that will add a public referendum question regarding the fate of the St.Pete pier onto the November Ballot, thanks to the petitioning efforts of a local citizens action group. The vote passed 5-3.

Save the Pier citizen group, led by Safety Harbor resident Tom Lambdon, reached its goal of 15,468 signatures just hours before the council was scheduled to vote to draft the ordinance, reported the Tampa Bay Times. A public hearing for further consideration on the ordinance is scheduled for August 2nd.

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