Two political tipping points appear to have been reached in the controversies surrounding the St. Petersburg Pier. A petition demanding a referendum on rebuilding the existing Pier is going for what one supporter calls "overkill" by mailing an additional 30,000 petitions, with return postage, directly to registered voters.
And support appears to be emerging among council members to consider a referendum.
A referendum by petition requires 15,648 signatures; 15,800 have already been delivered to city hall.
"Some of them may get pushed out, so what you want to do is make sure you have enough good ones in there, so we encourage people to keep sending them in," city councilman Wengay Newton said
Five times over the past 20 months, Newton has asked the St. Petersburg City Council to consider placing the Pier preservation question on a ballot.
His request always died for lack of a second to his motion. Now, councilmember Karl Nurse will provide that support.
"I think originally people didn't think they were going to get the petitions," Nurse told FOX 13 News. "I think clearly they either have gotten enough petitions or are close to enough petitions that we need to prepare to put something on the ballot."
Nurse and Newton have both requested a discussion at next Thursday's city council meeting.
Mayor Bill Foster said city attorneys will be ready with proposed ballot language.
"I anticipate that some questions will come up from council that will need to be addressed," Foster said. "I'm prepared to have those conversations, I'm prepared to make recommendations."
The mayor also said rebuilding the existing inverted pyramid "...would be a terrible idea. But I'm willing to have the debate, I'm willing to let people decide."
If the preservation question is placed on the November ballot, Nurse would also like another question to measure support for the proposed replacement Pier known as the Lens. That structure is still early in the design process, but even as a concept Nurse said "We don't have something that people like. It's clear that the overwhelming majority of the public is not even mildly favorably disposed toward (the Lens)."
Time and money have become driving forces in preparing ballot language. It has to be delivered to the supervisor of elections by August 3rd to be placed on the November general election ballot.
That would not cost the city anything. A special election would cost about $300,000.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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