St. Pete Pier design proposal: "The Lens" by Michael Maltzan Architecture
(courtesy: City of St. Pete)
St. Petersburg, Florida - There is perhaps no structure in St. Petersburg that generates more emotion than the Pier and some of that passion poured out at city hall Thursday, as council members and citizens discussed the Pier's future.
"Council, give us a vote. Better yet, stop this train now," implored Lorraine Margeson, who opposes the Lens project.
Erica Fulton, who felt resident voices were being ignored, was even prepared to be arrested. She went over her time limit and shouted at the council. "I've got news for you: this is America, it is a democracy and I am personally researching how to have you and any other member removed."
Several council members left the chamber at the tirade and security personnel were watchful.
The council was considering a proposal to let residents vote on the pier in November. A group pushing to save the current inverted pyramid had gathered more than 20,000 signatures.
"Twenty-thousand people signed this ballot measure. I don't think 20,000 voted in the last election," a woman supporting the Pier vote told the council.
But then there's the years spent talking about a new pier and the more than 60 public meetings that got the city to a winning design called the Lens.
"We appreciated your process, we participated countless hours in the process," stated St. Pete Chamber President Chris Steinocher, whose group supports the Lens proposal.
Photo Gallery: St. Pete Pier finalists' design proposals
After more than three hours of public testimony and council debate, council members voted 6 to 2 to reject placing any type of Pier question on the ballot. That move essentially lets the $50 million Lens project move forward.
"It's time to move on. It's time to get something different," said Councilman Jeff Danner.
But Thursday's council vote is not stopping the Vote on the Pier group. Their leader is vowing further legal action.
"I will not leave 23,000 registered voters on the side of the road like they decided to do today -- totally irresponsible," said Lambdon after the meeting. "Seventy-six of the people do not want the Lens. Why not listen to the people?"
The St. Petersburg Pier has gone through several different incarnations over the years. The current inverted-pyramid design was built in 1973.