The legal fight over the demolition of the old St. Petersburg Pier crossed another courtroom hurdle.
In less than 2 minutes, 15,852 people disappeared from a lawsuit filed against the city. Last year a group called Vote-On-the-Pier.com collected signatures on a petition to have the fate of the old inverted pyramid put on the ballot in a referendum. After compiling the required number of signatures, the St. Petersburg City Council voted to ignore the petition. Then Vote-On-the-Pier.com filed a lawsuit and named all 15,652 people on the petition as plaintiffs.
The city objected and the matter was resolved before the hearing scheduled for today. "The concern the city has had since the suit was filed is that folks were made a part of this lawsuit without their knowledge or authorization. We've now got those people out of the suit and we can proceed with the issues," said Joe Patner, Assistant City Attorney of St. Petersburg.
Vote-On-The-Pier.com, represented by former city councilwoman Kathleen Ford, agreed to re-file its complaint, eliminating all the petition names and naming just a few plaintiffs. The group's chairman, Tom Lambdon, doesn't see Monday's concession as a setback. "We're taking it down to a handful of people to streamline the process and get it to mediation on Friday. The voters in this city want to be heard plain and simple," said Lambdon.
If the two sides don't come to an agreement Friday during mediation, the case will go to trial.
Meantime, the city is proceeding with plans to close the Pier in May, and spend 50-million dollars to build a futuristic structure called "The Lens".