Sunday, July 12, 2015

Pier Fatigue

Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb, PhD

Thursday St. Pete City Council voted for each of the four Ordinances that officially starts the Pier Park construction process and ended of the reign of the inverted pyramid. The vote was the same on all four 7-1 with Wengay Newton remaining true to his opinion through the whole long and contentious ordeal. 

I spent the rest of Thursday and Friday talking to a few people on both sides of the issue. The general consensus of opinion was we are tired. We're tired of the process, the wrangling,  disappointment in the Kriseman administration and the list goes on.

There was a lot of  "let's just get on with it and let them, build what ever they want."

As one commenter pointed out, "It won't be much of a tourist draw, just another park and on any given day most of our parks are empty."

There were still a lot of valid questions that will never get answered. Even City Council seemed more than relieved to just get it over.

One of themes on both sides of the issue is concern about the amount of the subsidy, how much revenue if any Pier Park will generate, and how programming will work with paid events on the event lawn.

But, all in due time.

There were some excellent points made during the public comments. One man solidly in the millennial generation expressed the view that it was time for his generation to have a Pier they wanted. Sounded reasonable to me as long as they are willing to support and pay for it.

The usually very vocal opposition was represented by a lone person. Council chambers were oddly light on attendance more indication that people are just basically over it.

I'm not much of a kumbaya person, so calls for "lets all get together and move forward" don't ring real loud to me especially given the well documented questionable tactics used by the Kriseman administration to get this project in place. To think the administration's approach or the attitude will change is a Pollyanna view of reality.

The good news is there are program pauses in the Pier Park process where Council gets a look and a decision about moving forward, problem is with no Council dedicated reporting process Council will likely be told only what the administration wants them to know.

The Waterfront referendum group has been very quiet and with the Pier Park decision made there is little opportunity that the referendum would affect the Pier process. Getting any interest in the referendum is going to be tough.

For now it seems it is not so much Pier Park verses Destination St. Pete as the bad taste of the process. I think it will take some time for that to go away.

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