St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman gave his annual State of the City address over the weekend, addressing challenges including the release of more than 100 million gallons of sewage into Tampa Bay and onto the city's streets this past summer.
He says work already is underway to fix the overburdened sewer system, but improvements may not be done in time for the summer rainy season. Kriseman told the standing-room and mostly supportive crowd at the downtown Coliseum that money also will be spent on a long-term plan to fix the city's water infrastructure.
“In addition to the more than $300 million we are spending in the short term on waste water improvements, we are increasing our storm water rates to pay for shovel-ready projects and to update a storm water master plan that has sat on a shelf for more than 22 years,” he said.
The 30-minute speech focused a lot on the city's accomplishments, but Kriseman did reaffirm his support to complete building the new city pier by next year.
He also defended its cost. The project was initially expected to cost $40 million but has seen its price tag rise to $66 million, and the mayor recently asked for $14 million more.
Kriseman said the city of Tampa's Riverwalk project faced similar obstacles and now that it's complete, he says it received rave reviews during this month’s National College Football championship. He said the pier can have a similar impact on St. Petersburg.
"Dynamic and iconic public spaces make good cities great, and they make great cities grand," he said.
This was Kriseman's third state of the city address. He recently announced he is running for a second term.