A local company is using very local issues to showcase its technology is also shedding new light on public perceptions of the proposed "Lens" design for the next-generation St. Petersburg Pier.
"It doesn't cost us much, and we have the resources available," said Matt Florell, of Fextel, Incorporated.
Fextel's primary business is large-scale office telephone systems, but Florell said computerized telephone surveys have been a side line since 2008.
Issues such as red light cameras and replacing the Pier are "...a great way to show what we can do for current and potential clients."
Which is how the company measured some of the challenges facing the Lens. In a poll of 1,620 registered St. Petersburg voters taken the first week of February, only 28 percent of the respondents said they like the Lens design, while 72 percent thought "other alternatives should be considered".
In a December poll, 71 percent said the question of replacing the existing Pier should be put to a vote of the people.
The results are posted on stpetepolls.org.
"We're not really focused on addressing anybody directly in the city government," Florell said.
At least three city council members are following the results on Facebook, even though they say the results will have little effect on their decisions.
"Polls are great, but you ask a question and you get a yes or no answer," councilman Jeff Danner said. "The reality is these things are very complex and there's dollar amounts and processes and things that take us years to go through and make a decision on."
Councilman Steve Kornell, another Facebook follower, said "sometimes polls are accurate and sometimes polls are inaccurate", pointing out one poll showed him losing his last election by 2 percent, and he won by 20 percent.
Meanwhile, Mayor Bill Foster and city council chair Leslie Curran agreed the polling could help measure efforts to sell the Pier project to the public.
"Right now, there may be a lot of people out there that don't like it," Curran said. "I think there are a lot more people out there that don't understand it."
"Yeah, we need to educate the people, and I think that's a campaign we've certainly been doing. And we've obviously not done a very good job, so we have to do better," Foster said.
Florell plans to throw together new surveys every 45 days. Each will have five to eight questions. Some will be new and some will be repeated to track changes in public opinion.
He said polls taken for a client before January's Florida primary showed a margin of error of less than three percent.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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