St. Petersburg Pier: Opponents of The Lens gear up for New Year

5:58 PM, Dec 27, 2012   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida - Chris Lovett delivers "Stop the Lens" yard signs to homeowners who request them. 

Lovett volunteers her time, because she's fond of the inverted pyramid and even though city officials say it can't be done, she'd like to see the current Pier saved.

PHOTOS: St. Petersburg's new proposed Pier

"I like those stores and I like those restaurants and I like the view," says Lovett.

Stop the Lens signs are sprouting up in the city and the group behind them, Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg, shows no signs of stopping.

The group has an office on 4th Street North and a slick new video where group leaders -- several prominent businessmen -- talk about why they oppose the Lens.

"Why waste the taxpayers' money on something that has no function?" questions Bill Bozeman on the video.

See Also: Changes come to the The Lens design

The group already has a petition drive going and 92-year-old Edna Robinson came into the office with her family to sign it on Thursday.

Robinson says she reads the newspapers and she signed the petition because the Lens does not offer activities, like the ballroom dancing sessions she used to enjoy so much at the Pier. 

"And I think they should have something for every age," she said.

There are all sorts of reasons people oppose the Lens: the modern design, the architect, the $50 million in tax money. And Concerned Citizens is trying to channel all of that into a petition drive. The petition calls on the City Council to terminate the contracts for the Lens or failing that, force a referendum.

If it comes to that, Concerned Citizens leaders believe voters will scratch the Lens. 

"We have lots of places along the waterfront to meet your friends," says Fred Whaley, group chairman. "I don't think we need to spend $50 million on a walkway to meet your friends-it needs some function."

However, the Lens also has organized support. A group called WOW for Wow Our Waterfront has turned out at city council meetings and it also promises to figure into this long-running debate.

The St. Petersburg City Council, the Mayor, and the Chamber of Commerce have all remained strong supporters of the Lens.

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