Petitions in to stop the Lens in St. Pete -

Petitions in to stop the Lens in St. Pete

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Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg, the group trying to stop the proposed Lens project, turned in more than 20,000 petitions at city hall Wednesday morning. The group said St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster has given assurances that the petitions will not be certified until May 30.

The opening of a 90 day window would allow the issue to appear on the August 27 ballot, instead of a costly special election.

Once the Pinellas Supervisor of Elections counts the signatures and confirms them, the issue will be put on the August 27 ballot as a referendum. Voters will decide whether the city should terminate its agreement with the architect commissioned to design The Lens.

The referendum would not affect the planned closure of the old inverted pyramid. The Pier is scheduled to be closed May 31, and the city plans to move forward with a permit request for demolition.

At an evening city budget forum where residents were asked for their ideas to plug a $4.3 million dollar budget shortfall, some brought up money already spent on " The Lens." "We're here at this budget summit talking about other initiatives that money could have been invested in. And instead our money's being thrown away" said Maria Jose Hays.

Thursday the council will meet to decide whether to allocate $1.4 million to the Pier project, including the funding of the next design state for The Lens. 

Mayor Foster said the city council may choose not to spend that much money until after the public vote, but must still decide whether to move forward with wind tunnel testing and environmental testing that should be done regardless of what shape a new structure takes. 

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