Over the past few months, the current mayor and his administration have made it very clear where their priorities lie: Building a $2.8 million sculpture on Spa Beach and robbing future generations from the use of our waterfront parks.
Don’t get me wrong; I love art, especially local art. St. Petersburg has become a premier destination in the Southeast United States for murals and museums. However, this is the wrong spot and the wrong time for this particular piece.
Almost $3 million on out-of-town artwork is a risky expenditure when you have local artists with work twice as nice, for half the price. I’ve been to several pier project meetings and heard both sides.
The Echelman sculpture poses to cost taxpayers approximately $1.3 million. However, the cost of preserving the natural beauty of our precious waterfront is PRICELESS!
Imagine for a moment, if we had elected officials leading the charge to raise public money from private donors to help with the rehabilitation of 206 units in the Jordan Park historic housing village.
The deteriorating living conditions plaguing Jordan Park have gone virtually ignored by one of the largest municipalities and largest local newspapers in the state.
Maybe greater awareness to that situation is where the city’s priorities should lie.
Voting “Yes” for this project would be a blatant abuse of power and a slap in the face to the residents of the Jordan Park Senior Housing Village and the entire homeless population in St. Pete.
If the mayor can raise $1.5 million in private donations to fund a downtown “pet project,” then surely we can raise funds necessary to revitalize the Skyway shopping plaza and rehab Jordan Park. Surely we can find the funds needed to fix our aging sewage and lateral pipelines, so taxpayers don’t have to come out-of-pocket. And yes, surely we can invest in closing the socioeconomic gap that has separated our city for far too long.
If we sit back and do nothing, we give a governing body of eight the power to change the landscape of our waterfront and parks for years to come by voting to change the parks land use from passive to active.
We need to stand-up and demand the taxpayer funds be used for financing projects that will spread wealth through the city and circulate dollars back into the local economy. I urge each and every concerned citizen to get engaged and get excited about taking a stand!
Please join us in solidarity at the next city council meeting this Thursday, July 19 at 3 p.m.
Corey Givens Jr., President of The Poor People’s Campaign – St. Pete.
“Founded in 1969 by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, The Poor People’s Campaign works to unite tens of thousands of people in cities across the country to challenge systemic racism, poverty, economic inequalities and ecological devastation. The group meets @ 1 p.m. every second Saturday at the St. Pete South Community Library, 2300 Roy Hanna Dr. South.