St. Pete Pier: St. Petersburg City Council delays vote on Lens money

4:43 PM, May 2, 2013   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida - Competing red and blue t-shirts once again greeted city council members Thursday. It's become the norm when they're considering anything about the new Pier or the Lens project.

The council was supposed to vote on whether or not to authorize another $1.5 million to keep the Lens project moving forward, because in December the council voted to fund the project in phases.

However, with the group opposed to the Lens likely to have enough signatures to force a citywide vote in August, Lens opponents told council members: not so fast.

"It's time  to pump the breaks before spending any additional money on the Lens, knowing full well this issue will be put to voters to decide its fate," one red-shirted opponent told the council during the public comment section.

And council members also had a lot of questions for staff about Lens construction techniques and materials. Several said they were still trying to pore over the close to 500-page report on the project that they received just last Friday.

That's why Councilman Jim Kennedy asked for and got a two-week delay on the important funding decision.

Lens opponents say they'll take a delay wherever they can get it and they're hoping in two weeks council members will vote to withhold the funds. 

"All we've said all along is let the citizens decide," said Bud Risser of Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg.

So everyone will be back again in two weeks to debate the Pier and the Lens. And while new artist renderings show the Lens lit up at night, when it comes to ever ending this controversy, there's no light at the end of the tunnel.

Lens supporter Hal Freedman admits, the process is getting tiring. "I don't want to go through this cliff hanger every three months," he said in the hallway after the council vote. "I think it's insane."

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