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St. Pete City Council Votes Against Current Location For Echelman Sculpture In Pier District

City of St. Petersburg
Artist rendering of the new St. Pete Pier approach

St. Petersburg’s City Council voted down plans to move forward with the location of artist Janet Echelman’s net sculpture on Thursday by a 4-3 vote. The council plans to reassess another location for the large mesh artwork so it can still be part of the new Pier District.

The City Council meeting went on for several hours, with many residents and groups opposed to where the piece would have been, saying it would block the waterfront view. 

Darden Rice was one of three council members who voted to keep the sculpture at the north tip of Spa Beach.

“I’m leaning on the side of the history of yes, and to say yes to the public art piece and to say yes to the decisions that allow for responsible, thoughtful public art pieces that will help transform our city,” she said. 

The other four council members wanted to gather more information about other possible locations, and to have the private donors’ list made public.

“The idea is to step back for a short time and review the locations that are available on the pier,” said Phil Graham Jr., president of the Waterfront Parks Foundation. “And see if there is another location that would be sufficient for the sculpture and showcase it as well as removing it from the waterfront.”

Graham said that the main focus is to preserve and maintain the waterfront.

“I’m sure the artist has stated her willingness to review those locations again on the pier and see if there’s some way that this issue can be mitigated and it can be a win-win for the city and for everyone who’s concerned about the views,” said Graham.

Kyle Parks, a spokesperson for the volunteer group of Echelman supporters, said that the idea of having an Echelman sculpture in the Pier District is still very possible. Parks said that he has worked closely with Echelman’s team, and that the artist is flexible with her designs.

“We believe the Spa Beach location is a great location for it,” said Parks. “Our overall goal though is to have it in the Pier District in general.”

$1.3 million of public funds have been earmarked for the project, including $250,000 from the Public Arts Commission. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has raised $1.3 million in private donations for the $2.8-million project. 

Construction for the Pier District is scheduled to be complete by fall 2019.

Nada Blassy is a WUSF/USF Zimmerman School digital news intern for summer 2018.
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