Friday, October 31st, 2014

Revisiting Rick Kriseman's pier promises

Mayor Rick Kriseman announces his plans for a new or renovated Pier on May 1 at Spa Beach in St. Petersburg. (Tampa Bay Times photo)
Mayor Rick Kriseman announces his plans for a new or renovated Pier on May 1 at Spa Beach in St. Petersburg. (Tampa Bay Times photo)

Rick Kriseman’s original schedule to replace St. Petersburg’s dormant pier has run out of time.

The new mayor campaigned heavily on the fate of the pier, which had been slated to be replaced before voters rejected the new design, known as the Lens, back in August.

But now that he’s in office, he’s behind schedule on his campaign pledges for getting a new pier project onto the drawing board.

PolitiFact Florida is tracking Kriseman’s campaign promises. We recently looked at three of Kriseman’s promises on a timeline for a new pier and rated them for fulfillment on our Krise-O-Meter.

An opponent of the Lens, Kriseman said on his campaign website last year that he would "appoint community leaders who are well prepared to lead a thorough but expedited process" before taking office. Kriseman pledged to choose the group’s members before he took office on Jan. 2, almost two months after his Nov. 5, 2013 election, and said he would work with outgoing mayor Bill Foster and the city council.

Kriseman did meet with Foster several times before being sworn in to discuss pier issues, especially budget concerns. Kriseman regularly updated City Council members with his progress selecting community leaders for the group.

But Kriseman didn’t announce members of the group until May 1. It includes Ed Montanari, vice chairman of the former Pier Advisory Task Force; Jacqueline Dixon, dean of the College of Marine Science, University of South Florida; Lisa Wheeler-Brown, president of the Council of Neighborhood Associations; Barbara Readey, general manager of Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort; and Emily Elwyn, St. Petersburg Preservation president. 

Kriseman didn’t keep to his self-imposed schedule of appointing a group before he took office, but he did finally assemble it later. So we rate this promise as a Compromise.

Kriseman also pledged prior to his inauguration to get the working group’s recommendations by April 2014. Considering he didn’t even announce the group until May 1, it’s obvious he didn’t follow his original timeline. Since it will be months before their recommendations are submitted, we rate that a Promise Broken.

Finally, Kriseman said he would "work with the architect to have the new pier built by the end of 2015." While announcing his working group on May 1, Kriseman revealed a new timeline for the pier, projecting an end date far past 2015.

After his appointed panel’s recommendations are turned in, five to eight architectural and engineering firms would submit bids. The public would pick their three favorites in a nonbinding vote. Kriseman would choose one of the three and propose it to the city council, which would then vote on a contract.

Construction would begin in 2016. The new pier is now slated for completion in 2017, two years later than originally promised.

Because the timeline has been significantly extended, we rate this a Promise Broken.