Deadline replaced with design vote scheduled for 2015
Rick Kriseman campaigned heavily on fast-tracking a new pier design, even before the public voted down the controversial Lens. Unfortunately for Kriseman, his ambitious timeline to find a replacement has proven too ambitious.
In a Tampa Bay Times candidate questionnaire from July 2013, Kriseman not only supported the referendum to cancel the city's contract for the Lens, but promised to have a new committee make recommendations for a new pier by April 2014 and a final design by September. The new pier would then be built by the end of 2015.
The first two deadlines weren't met, and the mayor has already confirmed the third won't be, either.
The committee in question, the Pier Working Group, wasn't even announced until May 1. The group spent the entire summer soliciting recommendations. Kriseman announced a new timeline that required the committee to turn in its findings before five to eight architectural and engineering firms would submit bids.
The public would pick three favorites in a nonbinding vote, then Kriseman would pick one of the three and submit it to the city council for approval. That moves the process into 2015. Construction would start in 2016 and finish in 2017, two years later than Kriseman proposed.
Seeing as how Kriseman's appointed Pier Working Group only presented an analysis in November about what could be done at the waterfront, a final design is still a long way off. The analysis didn't find much different than the original survey for the Lens: The space could include some kind of attraction, be functional, have room for boats and perhaps an amphitheater, and so on.
In August, Kriseman appointed a separate, seven-member panel to cull the group of firms expected to submit designs, but that doesn't mean there's a design.
The mayor's office acknowledged the deadline has passed but stressed there's a process in place and there will be a new pier.
"The mayor set an ambitious agenda for a new pier, but the most important thing is that we follow the process he laid out and that the many stakeholder groups agreed on," communications director Ben Kirby told PolitiFact Florida.
The mayor has adjusted his timeline for a new pier, including when the final design would be in place -- at best that will happen in 2015. The original September deadline for a design has come and gone.
We rate this a Promise Broken.
PolitiFact Florida, "Recommendations not due for another three months," May 15, 2014
PolitiFact Florida, "Kriseman's new timeline adds two years," May 15, 2014
Tampa Bay Times, "St. Pete names pivotal seven-member panel in pier design process," Aug. 8, 2014
Tampa Bay Times, "New study on St. Petersburg Pier offers few new findings," Nov. 3, 2014
Tampa Bay Times, "St. Petersburg public shows interest in only small changes to waterfront," Nov. 13, 2014
Interview with Benjamin Kirby, mayor's communications director, Nov. 24, 2014