St. Pete borrows $33 million to complete Pier

- The St. Petersburg City Council Thursday approved borrowing tens of millions of dollars to build a new St. Pete Pier, and millions more to upgrade the acreage leading out to the Pier and for other waterfront improvements. 

The unanimous vote came after a presentation of a nearly-final design, and a discussion of features unaffordable within the current budget. 

Several council members said the extras need to be included. 

"We need to do this once, not twice, three times, four times," councilman Charlie Gerdes stressed. "Those are in many respects the projects that people feel passionately about doing in this," councilman Karl Nurse said.

Both were referring to a "water lounge" at the end of the new pier, a kayak launch and boathouse midway out on the new pier and an enhanced splash pad at the foot of the pier. 

"If it costs us $5 million... I don't think that when we look back, we'll be sorry that we did that," Nurse said. 

Mayor Rick Kriseman repeated his resolve to stay within the $33 million available for construction costs, but added, "we are at a point where there's continued opportunity to sharpen pencils and look for ways of doing some of these add-ons."

The architectural and engineering design team said the extra features will be included in building plans and permit applications, so they can built at the same time as the actual pier should more money be found. The project is expected to completed sometime in 2018.

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