St. Pete moves forward on plan for the Trop

05/01/08 Mitch E. Perry
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The St. Petersburg City Council voted today to authorize negotiations with two developers to re-develop Tropicana Field to pay for the proposed waterfront ballpark for the Tampa Bay Ray.

Councilman Herb Polson was the only board member to dissent.

As the council continues to gather information about putting up a possible ballot measure on the proposed park, opponents have questioned if contaminated soil below the site of Tropicana Field exists, and if that means the taxpayers could be forced to spend millions to clean it up. Councilman Jim Kennedy crafted an amendment to give the city legal protection.

The group POWW, Preserve Our Wallets & Waterfront, has made the claim about the contamination, but the city has said that only a modest amount of contaminated soil is left at the site and that it poses no harm to the public or the environment.

Nevertheless, Council Chair Jamie Bennett said he liked Kennedy’s amendment to address those concerns.

The developers still in the mix are the Hines group from Houston, which is offering $50 million for the land and Washington, D.C.-based Archstone Madison, which has offered a 98-year-lease at $1-$2-million a year.

The Council has to decide by June 5 whether to put a measure on the November ballot asking the citizens whether or not to approve building the new park on the waterfront. That’s just five weeks away, and several council members said they were getting antsy about getting financial information from the Rays.

The Council voted 7-1 to request that the Rays provide all the financial information about the plan by May 16. Wengay Newton was the lone dissenter.

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