St. Petersburg, Florida -- An icon of the Tampa Bay area will either be created or scrapped on Tuesday.
Voters have from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to decide whether to replace the current closed St. Pete Pier with the sweeping Lens design, or with -- essentially -- a big question mark.
Supporters of the Lens make the case that:
- The Lens offers two dining options: an outdoor cafe over the water and a new Columbia Restaurant on shore -- plus events, sightseeing, fishing, boating, and exercise.
- It will attract tourists, but locals will actually use it.
- And it keeps downtown St. Pete's innovative growth going.
Opponents of the Lens design argue:
- There's a lack of function on the Lens and they'd prefer a family destination there.
- It's more of a work of art than a usable pier.
- And there's no air-conditioned space to avoid the elements.
If the Lens project is shut down by today's vote, there is no ready alternative. Any new pier project would start from scratch and face another political fight.
Why not just keep the current inverted pyramid pier open?
It's 40 years old and this approach... is crumbling on pilings from the 1920's.
Studies show renovating it would cost far more than the $50 million budgeted for building a new pier.
Plus, its main tenants, the Columbia and Cha Cha Cocunuts say they will not come back to this building.
Do you want to see what you're actually voting on, to make an informed decision? Click here to take a one-minute guided tour of the proposed Lens pier.
Be aware: The wording on Tuesday's ballot is backward and confusing.
You're really voting on whether to scrap the Lens and cancel the contract with its designer.
So if you don't like the Lens and want it canceled -- you need to vote "yes" to kill the contract.
If you do like the Lens and want it built -- you need to vote "no" to not cancel the contract and keep the Lens alive.
Grayson Kamm, 10 News