Mayor unveils plan to jump-start new Pier

St. Petersburg, FL -- It will likely take months to decide on a new design for St. Petersburg's iconic pier, but on Thursday, Mayor Rick Kriseman unveiled a plan to get the pier process rolling.

Even critics of the failed "Lens" project seem to like what they're hearing.

"You're all being given a second chance," said Kriseman, standing at the foot of the landmark pier.

TOP 10: Possible futures for the St. Pete Pier

The mayor's new timeline has big changes in it regarding how the public will decide the pier's form and function.

"Voice your opinion on what you want the pier to do and what you want it to look like," the Mayor urged.

Kriseman made the pier a priority during his campaign, and it was likely a key factor in defeating his predecessor Bill Foster. Foster's favored "Lens" project created such a groundswell of opposition that It - and he - were ultimately defeated at the polls.

Budd Risser, whose group Concerned Citizens helped lead that effort, says this time he supports Kriseman's more inclusive approach. Whatever the end result, says Risser, "If people are given a fair shake and their idea is not accepted, I think generally they'll say 'Okay, I can live with that.'"

The first step is a panel of civilian volunteers taking the next 90 days to ask city residents what they want their pier to be. Then with a budget of about $46 million the city will solicit designs from architects. The public will eventually get to vote on around eight to 10 designs, narrowing the list to three.

Experts will examine what's feasible within the city's budget, and then the council will make a final decision.

Kay Glode, basking on Thursday near the pier said that they have to do something. "They need to get on the ball and don't let that sit there like that for years. Either fix it, or get a new one," she said.

Ironically, the inverted pyramid now sitting at the end of the pier is a metaphor for what was wrong with the way the pier project went the first time. Decisions made at the top eventually trickling down to the bottom, where the public would have a say.

This time, leaders promise it will be just the opposite.

Look for a ribbon cutting some time in 2017.

That's later than Mayor Kriseman had promised, but he says he'd rather it be done correctly... than quickly.

PHOTOS: Rejected St. Petersburg Pier designs


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