Political action committee formed to save the St. Pete Pier listen11/11/10 Jamie Kidder
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The St. Petersburg City Council voted last August to demolish the Pier, the waterfront landmark that has defined the St. Pete skyline since 1973. A new group wants to put the fate of the pier in the hands of voters during next year's municipal elections. WMNF was there for the organization's first meeting as an official political action committee.
Tom Lambdon formed the Vote on the Pier political action committee to try to force a referendum on the issue of the St. Petersburg Pier. He and a group of volunteers hope to collect enough signatures to put the matter to a vote.
"We need to acquire 15,648 verified registered voters within the city limits of St. Petersburg."
Lambdon wants to avoid having the matter decided in a special election, and plans on making sure it ends up on the ballot for the November 2011 municipal elections for a number of reasons, primarily voter turnout.
"Voter turnout, for one thing. There's 3 or 4 council members who are running for re-election of which a couple to a few of them did vote to tear the Pier down without a public vote, that's number one. But mainly because the turnout on a municipal election is much more significant than a special election. I am confident that we will have the necessary signatures of registered voters on our petition to accomplish it long before the required date."
St. Pete City Council member Wengay Newton cast the only vote against destroying the Pier. He showed up to the meeting to be the first person to sign the petition.
"When the vote came down in Council 7 to 1 to destroy this iconic structure I thought it was unfair that the people didn't have a say and I thought that it's only fair that they have a vote."
He also had an idea that could help the city cut down on consulting costs and make the process more open to the public: holding an engineerâ€™s contest to see who can come up with the best solution to save the Pier.
"Here's a novel concept, why don't we have an engineer's contest and see who can come up with the most innovative way to save this iconic structure."
The next Vote on the Pier meeting will be November 24 at 7 p.m. in the Pier's concession area.