St. Pete Pier design proposal: "The Lens" by Michael Maltzan Architecture (image courtesy City of St. Petersburg)
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida -- In three days, St. Petersburg residents vote to either cancel the city contract to build the new pier called The Lens, a $50 million project, or to keep the contract to build it.
Those who want it are hitting the hot pavement. "We are going to try to reach everyone in St. Petersburg who is not sure about the ballot and answer their questions," said Shirley O'Sullivan, representing the group called Citizens for the St. Pete Pier.
The issue both sides are struggling with is making sure voters understand the language of the ballot.
Also read: Explanation of St. Pete Pier referendum
Voting "No" means yes you want the city's contract with The Lens to move forward. Voting "Yes" means you want to cancel the city's contract and you do not want The Lens to be built.
"We have no control over the wording. It's unfortunate, but people need to get educated. If they love their city, people should get educated on the subject," said an architect building The Lens, Jason Jenson.
"We have tried to help the city make it as clear as possible," said Fred Whaley, president of the group behind the Stop the Lens petitions.
Whaley and his group collected 40,000 signatures of those residents who do not want The Lens.
"We think we are seeing about 2/3 of the people in all the polls don't think this is appropriate for the city of St. Petersburg, this large piece of aluminum art out over the water with no protection from the environment," said Whaley. "I don't think the architect understood our environment. Every afternoon the last week you could not be on The Lens because you'd have 1,500 feet you'd have to run off to get away."
"Once people come and see all the things to experience and are offered at the new pier and enjoy the underwater lights, enjoy the projection video on the canopy, all the activities, that is an experience that you cannot put on paper," said Jenson.
Both sides know no matter how much they explain they also need to equally explain what a voter's vote, yes or no, means.
The vote is Tuesday.