Voters to decide Lens future next month

11:34 PM, Jun 20, 2013   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida - The St. Petersburg City Council decided to keep things as they are - meaning voters will get to decide whether the Lens will replace the soon-to-be demolished pier.

"What we're asking for is, let's go ahead and end the contract immediately," said CEO Chris Steinocher, CEO of the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce. 

During a Thursday night meeting, Steinocher suggested a plan that calls for new designs to be put forward, but the Lens project must be considered in all final determinations.

The proposal did not appease anti-lens advocates. 

The group Citizens of St. Petersburg collected more than 20,000 signatures to force a public vote, and many feared that cancelling the contract with the architect would avoid that vote.

"It occurs to me that you might want to think about the voters and the fact that when we conducted our poll, 85 percent of them said they wanted to make the decision," said one man who spoke out against cancelling the contract.

Still, before the Thursday night's discussion about cancelling the contract, one of the Lens' biggest proponents, TV pitchman Anthony Sullivan, had a change of heart.

"It's neighbor-versus-neighbor, so maybe it is time to hit the pause button, and I'm going to go on the record right now and saying cancel the contract with Michael Maltzan today," he said.

But even with Sullivan's plea, city council decided that voters will make the decision on whether the Lens with be built next month.

"The signatures were had; we came forward; we know the item is going to the ballot on August 27th," said city councilwoman Leslie Curran.

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