Community members weigh in at the first of several meetings over the future of the St. Pete Pier. Mayor Rick Kriseman promises unlike the failed LENS project, this time, function will trump form.

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St. Petersburg, Florida -- For those who packed the Childs Park Recreation Center on Thursday night to discuss the St. Pete Pier project, the attraction holds special meaning.

"My grandpa took me fishing at the pier … and the aquarium, of course. I learned about fish and coral there," said Laments Quenten Richardson, a Marine who was raised in St. Petersburg.

Another woman, Pam Haber, says she remembers the Coconuts restaurant that once occupied space at the pier, along with the sunsets.

"It was really nice to go up there on a Sunday evening, and that was our mellow time," she said.

At this pier meeting, it's back to the drawing board. But this time, with community input, front and center.

"I didn't like how we didn't get enough say in it [the first go around]," Richardson said.

The future of the inverted pyramid been in limbo for years, and when the LENS design was so widely disliked, it got scrapped completely.

"It didn't really appeal to me," said one of the approximately 80 residents at the meeting. "It wasn't very family friendly."

Another promise: the emphasis on function, over form.

"As opposed to the last time, the form was decided first, and the function was an afterthought. I want us to be clear on what it's going to do," said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.

Community members along with a pier task group, voted on priorities for amenities, such as dining, retail, and attractions and a Ferris wheel.

So what's next? Ideas and plans, submitted by the public, will be ready for a vote hopefully by the end of the year. The targeted completion date: December 2017.

There are four more scheduled meetings:

-- Tuesday, June 24, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Coliseum, 535 Fourth Ave. N.

-- Thursday, June 26, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Roberts Recreation Center, 1246 50th Ave. N.

-- Monday, June 30, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Lake Vista Recreation Center, 1401 62nd Ave. S.

-- Wednesday, July 2, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at J.W. Cate Recreation Center. 5801 22nd Ave. N.

Residents who cannot make it to the meetings, and still want to chime in on the plan, can go here to take the survey online.

St. Petersburg residents meet to discuss what to do with the Pier.

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