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New TV ads tout Lens design as Pier vote nears | News

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New TV ads tout Lens design as Pier vote nears
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- The pivotal vote on the St. Pete Pier is just days away and backers of the new Lens design are trying TV commercials to convince voters.

The group behind the ads wants believes the best thing for St. Petersburg is replacing the current closed pier with the sweeping new Lens design.

PHOTOS: St. Petersburg's new proposed pier

To convince voters, they're turning to the visual power of television. Six commercials start airing Thursday and will run through Tuesday's citywide vote.

They're paid for by a nonprofit group commonly called "Build the Pier" and each one is designed to make a key point about the Lens pier concept.

They argue the Lens design keeps Downtown St. Pete moving forward. It's attractive to tourists. It's less expensive to build the new pier than repair the old one.

They point out funding for the new Lens pier has already been set aside and they say the Lens can be done by 2015.

Plus, if voters choose to shut down the Lens project in the August 27th election, any replacement pier may not happen for a long time.

"There is no alternative. If we stop this project now, we'll have to start the whole process from scratch," one 15-second ad says.

"The old pier will remain an eyesore for years. Say 'no' to more talk, and let's build the new pier."

Opponents from the nonprofit group commonly called "Stop the Lens" say the Lens design doesn't offer a real family destination to entice locals or visitors to use it.

And it has no air-conditioned space to keep folks out of the elements.

"It may add a little time to the timeframe to regroup and get a destination pier, but to have just a piece of art that's non-functioning, we think the city should do better," said Fred Whaley of Concerned Citizens of St. Petersburg.

Be aware, the language on the ballot Tuesday will be confusing. What you're really voting on is whether to kill the Lens project.

So if you want to kill the Lens project, vote "yes."

If you want to say no to shutting down the project and want to keep going with building the Lens pier, you need to vote "no."

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