St. Petersburg, Florida -- From a distance, the St. Petersburg Pier appears as bright and shiny as ever. The colorful inverted pyramid balances above the glittering waves of Tampa Bay. But come a bit closer and the pier is showing her age.
"Its day has come and gone," says city public works administrator Mike Connors.
While the inverted pyramid was built in 1973, the main drag leading up to it, the approach, was built in 1926. The pier head, the concrete platform surrounding the building, is that old too.
City engineering reports show that saltwater is eating away at the reinforcing steel and causing the surrounding concrete to crack and crumble. And you don't have to be an engineer to see where the city has applied band aids year after year and city officials say the little fixes just don't cut it anymore.
"We're at the point right now where we don't feel it's safe enough for the public to continue to use, in terms of the pedestrian load, the car loads, and the truck loads that the pier is subject to on a daily basis," says Connors.
There's no doubt about it, people are sentimental about the inverted pyramid. Over the years, they've made a lot of good memories at the pier and that includes the Mayor.
"1979 -- I went out on a date, kissed the girl on the Pier and we've been married almost 28 years," says Mayor Bill Foster.
But Foster doesn't let sentimental memories get in the way of what he calls a business decision.
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"It doesn't make good business sense to keep a model that we subsidize a $1.5 million a year and to spend $70 to $80 million to save a 40-year-old building with 20 years of life expectancy," explains Foster. "It doesn't make business sense."
The Pier has served this area well; it's entertained visitors from around the world, but city officials say it's time to wave goodbye to this version of the St. Petersburg Pier.
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