By taking no action Thursday, the St. Petersburg City Council bet $300,000 that a citizens' petition drive to save the St. Petersburg Pier will fail.
"That's a heck of a bet to take at the expense of the taxpayers," said councilman Wengay Newton, who Thursday encouraged his colleagues to call the election without petitions.
A quarter of a million to $300,000 is the price of a special election if a group called voteonthepier.com gathers nearly 16,000 signatures of city voters. The petition question asks whether the existing downtown Pier, an inverted pyramid structure, should be preserved and refurbished.
Organizer Tom Lambdon claims more than 8,000 names have already been certified and a big blitz in coming weeks should secure the rest. But the goal will not be met by August 16th, the last day the city council could place the question on the November ballot.
"The city council between today and the 16th of August can put it on the ballot for zero cost," Lambdon said. "If they refuse to do that, it's on them, it's not on us."
The past two years, Mayor Bill Foster has guided a process to replace one of the Bay Area's most recognized buildings. The city is conducting a design competition that has attracted architects and urban designers from around the world.
Newton's motion to place the "Save the Pier" question on the November ballot died without a second, and with no discussion.
"I did my duty. I brought it their attention," Newton said. "I led them to the water, but they didn't drink."
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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