Sunday, June 7, 2015

Sunday June 7, 2015 Pier Park, Downtown Waterfront Master Plan – Now What?

Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Coauthor of: So You Want Blog .

With the Pier Park decision and the approval of the Downtown Waterfront Master Plan it seems pretty clear that the St. Pete Mayor's Office and City Council cannot be trusted to protect the waterfront.

Pier Park continues through its "redesign" phase, see my post The Incredible Shrinking Pier, and the Downtown Waterfront Master Plan (DWMP), while modified to eliminate the hotel/conference center and renaming some for the Development Opportunity sites, still seems to be more of an attack on the waterfront than a plan to protect it.

The mind boggling thing about all of this is seeming lack of commitment to protect the City's most valuable asset by the City Council.

With the stage set for a new "Pier" that, if it can actually be constructed, will not look anything like the plans that were sold to the public over their whishes, and a DWMP that at the very least opens the door wider for development, what will those in St. Pete that really want to protect the waterfront do?

The case will be made that the current charter provides for a public referendum for certain activities on the water front, but it is far to narrow and as we have seen Mayors and City Councils seem to always find a way to do what they want as opposed to what the public desires while skirting the referendum process.

Those who would protect the waterfront are at a critical moment. Will they move forward with a referendum to modify the charter and tighten up the requirement for waterfront changes and development or is it time to just give up?

Given the results of the LENS, Pier Park and the waterfront master plan it seems the only true way to protect the waterfront is to give the people the final say in ALL that happens on the waterfront.

There will be cries from the politicians, developers and others that it will be too restrictive. Could be, but that entire outcry is really about a few people making a lot of money and politicians getting some big campaign contributions all at the cost of your waterfront.

The waterfront is the people's property, and it's time for the City Charter to make that crystal clear.

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1 comment:

  1. Maybe, just maybe, the people who live here know what's best for their community.