I have rarely seen a modern issue as divisive in the City ofSt. Pete as the one that exists now regarding the St. Petersburg Pier. As a native to this town, I am torn between wanting to honor tradition and wanting a symbol for the city’s future and progress. After all, my father,Thomas H. Street, was a prolific artist—mostly a muralist—inSt. Petersburg, and one of his best-known murals rests steady on a circular wall, overhead from the first floor, depicting the many faces of the St. Petersburg Pier through its history. Apparently, its concept was a short-sighted history; it seems a panel should have been left blank, allowing room for the future. Yet, when the demolition begins, I suppose it won’t matter much.
History and sentiment aside, I also am as confused as many are about what facts are really facts. With so much contradictory information floating about, I found myself having difficulty keeping everything straight. Today, another “public input” meeting is set (Tuesday, June 12 at6 p.m.at EnochDavisCenter,1111 18th Ave. S.), and in honor of this, I wanted to put together a rundown of content on the Pier issue. Here are some highlights for review:
- City of St. Petersburg: http://www.thenewstpetepier.com/
- Voteonthepier.com: http://voteonthepier.com/ & http://www.facebook.com/pages/Voteonthepiercom/156689681027400
- Saint PetersBlog: City Council approves ‘Lens’ design for Pier, but why is no one happy?
“The ‘Lens’ contract was approved at the St. Petersburg City Council meeting yesterday by a 7 to 1 vote, but that likely won’t be the last you hear of this. A local group has formed—you may have heard of them – voteonthepier.com. It appears that the group is well on its way to collecting the 16,000 signatures needed on their petition to meet the threshold. While that may sound intimidating, as though City Council should be shaking in their boots that the people are going to rise up in numbers and could potentially vote to undo the years of work, beginning in 1996 followed by 68 specific meetings and public hearings, that lead to where we are today, finally signing a contract for a new Pier. However, City Attorney John Wolfe said that the language used in the petition from votefothepier.org would not require the city to offer this issue up to a public vote no matter how many signatures they collect.”
- Daphne Street’s Blog: ‘Lens’ design contract approved by St. Petersburg City Council–New Pier
“Below is my Twitter feed from yesterday’s St. Petersburg City Council meeting about the Pier issue, using “Storify.”
- Bill Foster Watch: Fact-Checking Mayor Bill Foster’s “Pier Facts”
“Before we get to the fact-checking of Foster’s “facts”, we wanted to share some of the details we learned after filling our brains with pier task-force information, and other related data on the pier: The $50 million that has been earmarked was intended to address the Pier approach and the Pier head, but the not the Pier building itself (City Council instructed the pier task force in 2008 to consider all options, including demolishing the pier)”
- Saint PetersBlog: More “Foster’s Pier Facts” examined
“Mayor Bill Foster released some more “Pier Facts” today in his sometimes-weekly weekly forecast email, so we thought we would go through these and see if he was any more truthful on these new facts than he was on the “facts” he released last week in his shiny “facts” brochure. If you haven’t read our post from Monday, please take a few minutes to read it, there is a lot of good background information in there. “The Pier Approach… and the Pier Head were built in 1926. According to engineering assessments, these portions of the Pier are continuing to diminish in their ability to bear weight, and will have to be closed within two years.” We haven’t seen anyone anywhere debate you on this Mayor Foster, everyone agrees that the pier approach and head need to be replaced.”
- Saint PetersBlog: Mayor Bill Foster’s Pier propaganda – round 3
“Today, the City of St. Petersburg awkwardly launched a fancy new website dedicated to the new Lens Pier design, and wouldn’t you know it, a few of Foster’s misleading “pier facts” and some new revisionist history appears(and then was deleted) on the new website too. We say “awkwardly launched” because they didn’t check to see that the new website was working before announcing it, so for the first couple of hours, people that went to the new website only saw these two words “Under Development”, and they even managed to send everyone five copies of the City’s weekly email newsletter today which also announced the website, just another PR stumble for the Mayor we guess. Also, it looks like they removed the link from the city’s website to the original pier competition page, so we’ve included that link for you here so you can go look at the critique and analysis of how their Lens Phase 1 proposal was over budget and inadequate in several ways.”
- Saint PetersBlog: The ghost of reporter Cristina Silva returns to remind us Bill Foster was once for referendum on Pier
“We would like to thank the people behind voteonthepier.com for giving us (the Bill Foster Watch) the exclusive on this story. Through their research they have contacted a former reporter from the St. Petersburg Times from back in 2009. Cristina Silva coveredSt. Petersburgpolitics for the Times back then, and when she was told about Mayor Foster’s current push to demolish the Pier and not hold a referendum, and how that conflicts with this article that she wrote during the 2009 race for Mayor, she had the following to say…”
“St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster has drawn the line in the sand for voteonthepier.com supporters—a group that has collected over 14,000 petitions to have a public vote to help save the St. Petersburg Pier in its full inverted pyramid style. By June 11th, Foster says the group must submit the nearly 16,000 petitions necessary to have the vote included on the November 6th ballot. The June 11 date was determined by working backwards, said Foster. It includes the time needed for the petitions to be processed and for the City Council to consider an ordinance to put the measure on this November’s ballot.”
- Old Northeast-DowntownSt.Pete Patch.com: Pier Petition Drive Gets Deadline
“For the Mayor to arbitrarily come up with this deadline is ridiculous,” Lambdon said in an interview with Patch. “It’s clear why he wants to do it. To try and promote an ill-conceived and unsupported “Lens” pier.”
- ABC Action News: Battle over the future of the St. Petersburg Pier continues
“Public input on the fate of the St. Pete Pier seems less likely now that organizers of a petition drive failed to deliver the 16,000 signatures required to have the issue possibly put on November’s ballot. In a letter dated May 24, Mayor Bill Foster set June 11 as the deadline for votethepier.com founder Thomas Lambdon to turn in the petitions to the city clerk. “I am trying to give them the best possible chance of getting this in front of council members and on the ballot,” said Foster.”
- Tampa Bay Times: Pier petition deadline comes and goes
“According to Mayor Bill Foster’s calculations, Monday was the beginning of the end for the group trying to force a vote on the Pier, which is set to be replaced. Foster had given voteonthepier.com a June 11 deadline to submit the almost 16,000 petitions needed to get on the Nov. 6 ballot. But Monday came and went without a single petition delivered to City Hall. Wengay Newton, who is the sole council member against the new $50 million Pier and who signed the first petition in 2010, called Foster’s deadline arbitrary.”
Credit for the format of this piece goes to Peter Schorsch of Saint PetersBlog–I borrowed liberally from his style. Full disclosure: I am a freelance writer often published through Saint PetersBlog–some of my articles are included in the listing above.