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St. Pete city council votes to delay pier vote

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ST. PETERSBURG, FL (WFLA) -

After spending hours discussing the future of the St. Petersburg pier, the city council voted Thursday to delay any vote for two weeks.

Plans have been in the works to demolish the current inverted pyramid, and replace it with a futuristic looking structure called "The Lens".  There's been much debate, not only among residents, but also among St. Petersburg city council members.

There's also a petition drive trying to let voters decide what should happen to the Pier in an August referendum.

Councilman Wengay Newton said, "When you got an iconic structure that belongs to the people of this city, you have to let those people vote first... just like the previous mayor did for Albert Whitted airport.  This does not belong to us, it belongs to the taxpayers and the people of St. Pete."

On Thursday, the council met to discuss spending $1.5 million dollars for the next phase of the $50 million dollar pier project.

Many people speaking before the council objected to spending anymore money until there are more answers, like what will it cost to maintain "the Lens".

Bud Risser with Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg said, "Those are important answers we should seek before we start spending more money.  I hope they are all fine, but if we discover problems that will be a deal killer ... the time to find the deal killer is early in the game, not October or November."

The council voted to delay spending the additional money for at least the next two weeks as it seeks more answers from staff.

But Mayor Bill Foster says Thursday's vote is not going to stop the demolition of the current pier.

"The Pier will close May 31st and we will seek a demolition permit and go forward with it.  The questions related to stop the Lens has nothing to do with the inverted pyramid," said Mayor Foster.

If things do eventually move forward construction on "the Lens" would start early next year, and be finished by mid-2015

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