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Wednesday, Aug 20, 2014
Steve Otto Columns

Otto: ‘Million Dollar Pier’ due for comeback?

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Right before this week’s St. Petersburg referendum sank the proposed “Lens’’ pier project, I received an email from Rand Moorhead. He’s the director of something called “Ride the Tide Tampa Bay,’’ which is a proposed water taxi service between St. Petersburg and Tampa. He says the pier, in whatever configuration eventually happens, would be the perfect site for his landing slip on the St. Pete side of the bay.

“Keep an eye out,’’ he says “for the populist movement to resurrect the Million Dollar Pier, which can happen, when public transit (i.e. public ferry and streetcar stations) are incorporated.’’ He adds: “Now that the Rays are moving to Tampa, most likely, a public ferry is needed more than ever.’’

I like the idea of a ferry across the bay and I like the idea of constructing a version of the old kitchy “Million Dollar Pier’’ with its great Mediterranean-style building that preceded the upside-down pyramid that’s out there today.

Of course I suspect a million dollars wouldn’t even pay for the old structure’s tropical landscaping, and somehow calling it the “100 Million Dollar Pier’’ doesn’t have the same ring... But I still like it. If only they could get old Doc Webb to open up a branch in whatever structure they come up, with his great chocolate milkshakes and maybe that mermaid show he had in his “world’s most unusual” St. Pete drugstore.

It’s going to be a fascinating process to watch if the new pier — if there is going to be one — is selected by popular vote.

My guess is the city will come up with another three or four designs; they will take a vote, and the new pier will be constructed in accordance with percentages of that vote. If 54 percent want an upside down pyramid, then 54 percent of it will look like a pyramid. If 18 percent want a Colossus of Rhodes kind of statue, using Joe Maddon as a model, then it can go on top of the pyramid. That way everyone will be happy.

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Lets see... What’s in the mailbag that has nothing to do with Miley Cyrus or Obamacare, which seem to be crowding out everything else... OK, here’s one from “Frustrated Parent,’’ who is upset about buying school supplies. “I would like to know why I have to purchase every school supply known to man every year. Now it can’t be a regular notebook, it has to be a ‘Five Star Notebook.’’’

Frustrated goes on, wondering why maybe teachers don’t buy supplies with their budgets from the schools.

Unless things have changed in the three months since the Frau retired, the teachers run out of their yearly budget money sometime around the first week of September.

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Sally Jones wonders about the great banyan tree that used to be in Ballast Point Park and why the city doesn’t put up another one for kids to play beneath.

Unfortunately I haven’t seen kids playing in trees or swinging on tires in a long time. These days we have to spend thousands on playground equipment.

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Finally, and it’s early but you might make a note of it, Nov. 16 is the date for “Smoke on the River,’’ which is what our marketing people want to call my chili contest, this year at Curtis Hixon Park.

Steve Otto can be reached at (813) 259-7809, or sotto@tampatrib.com

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