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Let the voters be the final decision maker and REQUIRE A REFERENDUM on Tropicana’s Future.

 

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SIGN THE PETITION

Your signature is needed!!

Let the voters be the final decision maker and REQUIRE A REFERENDUM on Tropicana’s Future.

 

Day(s)

:

Hour(s)

:

Minute(s)

:

Second(s)

SIGN THE PETITION

The City Charter of St. Petersburg states the following:

Sec. 1.02. Park and waterfront property; use, disposition.
(a) Purpose. The purpose of this section is to protect City-owned park and waterfront
property. Except as provided herein, no waterfront or park property owned by the City may be
sold, donated or leased without specific authorization by a majority vote in a City-wide
referendum.

 

 

Tropicana Field represents almost 86-acres of contiguous land, along with a $200 million stadium, that was paid for by tax-payers in 1998, and yet, this mayor along with city council are trying to decide the future without the people voting.

 

We ask, is the Tropicana Field stadium and the land any less important than a park or waterfront, which are protected under the City Charter?

 

We believe it’s more important.

 

We are astonished the sale, joint venture, or lease of such a financially, socially, historically, geographically, and ecologically valuable piece of public land as the Trop Site does not automatically require a citywide referendum to determine its fate. Meanwhile, if the City wanted to donate, sell, or lease even one inch of its waterfront or parkland, it would require specific authorization by a majority vote in a citywide referendum (per Sec. 1.02 of the City Charter). Why is the immensely important Trop Site not subject to the same protections?

 

As concerned citizens of St. Pete, we implore you to join your voice with ours in demanding that the future of the Tropicana field requires a city-wide vote as to which group or groups will be involved in the development if any development is to happen at all.

 

As with parks and the waterfront, this decision should only be made by the people of St. Petersburg, and not by any outgoing mayor, incoming mayor, city council, special interests, or billionaire’s interests.

 

We urge the City to halt any immediate selection of a developer and to reissue an RFP that states that the final decision maker will be the people of St. Petersburg.

 

Read below to understand the many reasons this is a necessity.

We believe this referendum is imperative for several reasons:

#1: Immensity of Scale

The Trop Site consists of 86 acres – 20% of the City’s land.

#2: Complexity

The Trop site is city-maintained, but county-owned land. The City of St. Pete only regains ownership of the land with the termination of the Rays’ lease – thereby, further complicating an already problematic situation, as the County would also have to approve any and all development plans prior to the end of the lease.

#3: Collaboration

Internal
Additional community input and feedback should have been sought. The RFP needed to have stronger requirements for public display for a much longer timeframe and with a more adept system for feedback and questions.

External

  • Why reinvent the wheel? Countless other cities around the globe have already successfully taken on mega-projects akin to ours. Why would we not draw on the experience and expertise of other cities?

 

  • There should have been an RFP council consisting of expert consultants, as opposed to driven by politicians who lack expertise. This lack of expertise is even more concerning, per Section 17 of the RPF – AWARD WITHOUT DISCUSSION, “The City may accept a proposal without discussion if, in its sole discretion, it is determined to be in the public interest for the intended use”.

#4: Flawed Process

There are huge flaws in the current process. As we saw with the St. Petersburg Pier, the people chose the option to keep the old, historic Pier, and the mayor chose the other. The Mayor’s choice cost the taxpayers more than $100 million dollars. 

This property has not been marketed for sale. If the city had marketed this project for sale, it could be sold in excess of $500 million dollars. That $500 million dollars could be used for workforce housing, parks, fighting food insecurity, and a plethora of other projects and initiatives that would benefit the people of St. Petersburg. So the question is, if we can sell the property for $500 million dollars, why should we be giving it away to the two finalists, and losing up to $800 million, all while additionally subsidizing it at the same time. This is all the more reason that we all need to reexamine this.

 

There should have been a lot more than 7 hats in the ring for a project of this size and esteem. However, the RFP process was so flawed because of the extraordinary number of variables with the start date; the uncertainty of the Rays future; the contractual deal with the Rays that they if the land is developed on prior to the termination of their lease, they GET 50% OF THE PROFITS through 2027; plus the City would need the approval of both the Rays and the County. This land is too valuable to only consider a mere 7 proposals. We need more qualified RFPs to make an informed decision.

#5: Conflicts of Interest

  • At least 2 of the 4 finalists to develop the site have directly or indirectly given significant donations to the current Mayor of St. Pete and to many members of City Council, thereby creating a huge conflict of interest. Consequently, the current Mayor and Council cannot ethically make this decision.

  • The Rays themselves donated upwards of $150,000 to the current Mayor’s campaign.

 

  • Many, if not all, awards of city land under this administration through RFP processes have been tied to political contributions. To name a few, 14 acres of Commerce Park. 2 Acres in the Warehouse District, 2+ acres of the old Police Station in the EDGE district. Most of these properties were sold or given away for far less than fair market price. And most of these contracts never materialized as “planned”. The only people who are truly losing are the citizens of St. Pete.

#6: Time & Money

  • Haste makes waste. We have nothing but time here. For the next 7 years the Rays have an ironclad right to play baseball at the Trop. And why would they renew that lease a day sooner if per their contract, if the City starts development prior to 2027, they are entitled to 50% of all profits of the development? Why would we give a billionaire profits that could be much better spent addressing the needs of the people in our community? This decision can wait until the Rays have left rather than hand them hundreds of millions of citizens’ benefits.

 

  • Current Administration has gone over budget and botched The Pier and Police Station – we literally can’t afford to rush a project of this scale.

#7: Historical Significance

  • Prior to being the home of the Trop, this area was known as the Gas Plant District. In 1978, the City deemed the Gas Plant District a “redevelopment area” and used eminent domain and $11.3 million in federal community development grants to seize 86 acres of land from these predominantly African American communities. As the City utterly razed the district, it vowed (in writing) that the neighborhood would be rebuilt with affordable housing and a modern industrial park, bringing with it 600 new jobs and $5.6 million in combined salaries by 1990. By 1980, I-175 was complete, but instead of rebuilding the neighborhood, a few years later, City Council voted to construct the Domed Stadium, forever displacing the former residents.

 

  • Furthermore, the City suspects the site was home to Oaklawn Cemetery, a historic African American cemetery, and is currently searching for gravesites

#8: Ecology

  • Booker Creek, a roughly 3-mile creek that runs through South St. Pete and through the Trop Site, has immense historical and ecological significance to the community. For this reason, Booker Creek and the area surrounding it should be both considered waterfront and parkland and should be protected under the same mandatory citywide referendum requirement as other Downtown and City waterways and parks.

 

  • EPA studies should be performed to establish if it is safe to develop housing, hotels, etc. over a former gas plant.

#9: Accountability

  • We are in the final 6 months of this Administration, and yet no shovel will break ground on this development deal for many years to come. The current Mayor will be long retired to ensure whoever is awarded the contract follows through on time and on budget. This scale of a decision should take place at the outset of an Administration, so that the Administration can be held accountable for its oversight and implementation.

 

  • Plus, awarding the single greatest asset of this City on the tail end of an administration that has already awarded land and property to political donors, reeks of special interests, as opposed to fairness.

#1: Immensity of Scale

The Trop Site consists of 86 acres – 20% of the City’s land.

#2: Complexity

The Trop site is city-maintained, but county-owned land. The City of St. Pete only regains ownership of the land with the termination of the Rays’ lease – thereby, further complicating an already problematic situation, as the County would also have to approve any and all development plans prior to the end of the lease.

#3: Collaboration

Internal
Additional community input and feedback should have been sought. The RFP needed to have stronger requirements for public display for a much longer timeframe and with a more adept system for feedback and questions.

External

  • Why reinvent the wheel? Countless other cities around the globe have already successfully taken on mega-projects akin to ours. Why would we not draw on the experience and expertise of other cities?

 

  • There should have been an RFP council consisting of expert consultants, as opposed to driven by politicians who lack expertise. This lack of expertise is even more concerning, per Section 17 of the RPF – AWARD WITHOUT DISCUSSION, “The City may accept a proposal without discussion if, in its sole discretion, it is determined to be in the public interest for the intended use”.

#4: Flawed Process

There are huge flaws in the current process. As we saw with the St. Petersburg Pier, the people chose the option to keep the old, historic Pier, and the mayor chose the other. The Mayor’s choice cost the taxpayers more than $100 million dollars.

This property has not been marketed for sale. If the city had marketed this project for sale, it could be sold in excess of $500 million dollars. That $500 million dollars could be used for workforce housing, parks, fighting food insecurity, and a plethora of other projects and initiatives that would benefit the people of St. Petersburg. So the question is, if we can sell the property for $500 million dollars, why should we be giving it away to the two finalists, and losing up to $800 million, all while additionally subsidizing it at the same time. This is all the more reason that we all need to reexamine this.

There should have been a lot more than 7 hats in the ring for a project of this size and esteem. However, the RFP process was so flawed because of the extraordinary number of variables with the start date; the uncertainty of the Rays future; the contractual deal with the Rays that they if the land is developed on prior to the termination of their lease, they GET 50% OF THE PROFITS through 2027; plus the City would need the approval of both the Rays and the County. This land is too valuable to only consider a mere 7 proposals. We need more qualified RFPs to make an informed decision.

#5: Conflicts of Interest

  • At least 2 of the 4 finalists to develop the site have directly or indirectly given significant donations to the current Mayor of St. Pete and to many members of City Council, thereby creating a huge conflict of interest. Consequently, the current Mayor and Council cannot ethically make this decision.

  • The Rays themselves donated upwards of $150,000 to the current Mayor’s campaign.

 

  • Many, if not all, awards of city land under this administration through RFP processes have been tied to political contributions. To name a few, 14 acres of Commerce Park. 2 Acres in the Warehouse District, 2+ acres of the old Police Station in the EDGE district. Most of these properties were sold or given away for far less than fair market price. And most of these contracts never materialized as “planned”. The only people who are truly losing are the citizens of St. Pete.

#6: Time & Money

  • Haste makes waste. We have nothing but time here. For the next 7 years the Rays have an ironclad right to play baseball at the Trop. And why would they renew that lease a day sooner if per their contract, if the City starts development prior to 2027, they are entitled to 50% of all profits of the development? Why would we give a billionaire profits that could be much better spent addressing the needs of the people in our community? This decision can wait until the Rays have left rather than hand them hundreds of millions of citizens’ benefits.

 

  • Current Administration has gone over budget and botched The Pier and Police Station – we literally can’t afford to rush a project of this scale.

#7: Historical Significance

  • Prior to being the home of the Trop, this area was known as the Gas Plant District. In 1978, the City deemed the Gas Plant District a “redevelopment area” and used eminent domain and $11.3 million in federal community development grants to seize 86 acres of land from these predominantly African American communities. As the City utterly razed the district, it vowed (in writing) that the neighborhood would be rebuilt with affordable housing and a modern industrial park, bringing with it 600 new jobs and $5.6 million in combined salaries by 1990. By 1980, I-175 was complete, but instead of rebuilding the neighborhood, a few years later, City Council voted to construct the Domed Stadium, forever displacing the former residents.

 

  • Furthermore, the City suspects the site was home to Oaklawn Cemetery, a historic African American cemetery, and is currently searching for gravesites

#8: Ecology

  • Booker Creek, a roughly 3-mile creek that runs through South St. Pete and through the Trop Site, has immense historical and ecological significance to the community. For this reason, Booker Creek and the area surrounding it should be both considered waterfront and parkland and should be protected under the same mandatory citywide referendum requirement as other Downtown and City waterways and parks.

 

  • EPA studies should be performed to establish if it is safe to develop housing, hotels, etc. over a former gas plant.

#9: Accountability

  • We are in the final 6 months of this Administration, and yet no shovel will break ground on this development deal for many years to come. The current Mayor will be long retired to ensure whoever is awarded the contract follows through on time and on budget. This scale of a decision should take place at the outset of an Administration, so that the Administration can be held accountable for its oversight and implementation.

 

  • Plus, awarding the single greatest asset of this City on the tail end of an administration that has already awarded land and property to political donors, reeks of special interests, as opposed to fairness.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

For all of these reasons, we implore you to help to give the People of St. Pete a voice as you sign this petition urging the current Administration and future Administrations to respect the wishes of this great City’s citizens in requiring a citywide referendum to (1) cease the rushed and reckless award of a contract to a developer for some of our most valuable land; and (2) reissue a revised RFP with a timeline that either coincides with termination of the term of the Rays’ lease, or a commitment of the Rays’ intent to stay and agreement to allow immediate redevelopment.

Ultimately, utilizing this time we have available will be an advantage to allow the City to seek additional community input and achieve consensus; to preserve its history and ecology to the greatest extent; to prevent influence of political conflicts of interest; to avoid economic waste, freeing up funds for programs/projects that will benefit citizens right now; and to make a calculated, informed decision regarding who to entrust with the development of a fifth of our city.

So, step up to the plate and sign

CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE PETITION