Citizen’s take on Pier vs. Police Station Controversy: taxpayers are not “two-legged ATM machines”!

The following letter was cc’d to the Sun Beam Times from a local taxpayer who thought the City Council and Mayor needed to rethink their approach to the Pier and the Police Station controversy….

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(If you want to write for the Sun Beam Times, please contact dmckalip@neuro3.net).


Mayor and Council,

It appears that, with the exception of Councilman Wengay Newton, that mayor and council members of St. Petersburg suffer from selective deafness to the wishes of it’s citizenry.  The majority of St. Petersburgs taxpayers-those little two-legged ATM machines that provide money for your amusement-believe our dollars are better spent on useless frivolities such as a new police station than such essentials an a lump of useless water pollution like the pier.

The present police station is a too-small, rotting, undersized embarrassment of a building that is a disservice to our police force.  When we see fit to make our police officers work in such functional slum, we go a long way to showing them what our politicians think of them.  Imagine your re-election campaign when your opponent points out your total disregard for the needs of our police department and your slobbering need to spend money on the a pier that does nothing.

The existing pier has to go….we understand the aging substructure…and it should come down.  What replaces the present pier is the problem. 

Let us look at the positives:

1. Your names will look wonderful on the bronze plaque mounted on the approach to the pier.

Let us look at the negatives:

1. There is NO WAY this thing will cost $50 million dollars.  As we add cost over-runs, additions at the whim of politicians, material cost increases, approach costs, etc. this dog will hit $150 million total AND YOU ALL KNOW IT.  When it does I can see most all of you shrug you shoulders (after all, it’s not your money) and say “Well, we can’t tear down what we have so we have to keep building but we’ll be more careful in the future.”  You may have forgotten Bay Plaza or the baseball stadium financial slight-of-hand inflicted on the taxpayers  by past politicians but we haven’t.  Speaking of bright ideas: how’s BayWalk these days?

2. The new pier serves no purpose. It’s functionally useless like an Appendix.   It goes nowhere, does nothing.  After you take this walk to nowhere once, why return?  At least we can now enjoy a meal, have a drink, drown shrimp, buy schlock. 

3. If this be-all, end-all, 8th Wonder of the World and St. Petersburgs reason for existence is so wonderful, why isn’t private enterprise stepping forward and building it themselves?  Let me venture a guess; it’s going to be a money pit.  You accuse the present pier of soaking up taxpayers money in the form of subsidies?  Do you truly think this concrete lump will maintain itself? 

4. We, the taxpayers, can’t afford the thing. We can’t afford the police station either but given this dilemma, the police station has to come first.

5. While we understand some of you have anointed yourselves architectural sophisticates blessed with the talents to tell us rubes what we should like or dislike, please don’t ask us to pay for your elitism.

Solution: Tear down the existing because this has to be done.   Partner with private enterprise to create something functional. Take a gander at the Embarcedero in San Francisco, the Harbor area in Baltimore, Waterfront Park/Alaskan Way/Pike Place Market area in Seattle, even stone funk like So Beach in Miami or key West-Mallory Square madness but NOT the concrete dump of water pollution you have presently planned.

OR

put it on the ballot……

And yes I know the silent power behind the throne, the St. Pete Times (or whatever it’s name of the moment might be) has commanded the pier be built.  Do me a small favor.  Walk down the street and ask the Times where they spend their money…..then ask about the Forum in Tampa. Why not inquire of those socialist worthies how make dollars they want to contribute to the building of a new pier. 

Gary West

St. Petersburg, FL 33702

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