City commission has final say in ‘Unconditional Surrender’ statue relocation and wants public input

Sarasota County

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – The future of the iconic ‘kissing statue’ on Sarasota’s bayfront has been the talk of the town for several months. The statue needs to be relocated to make way for the construction of a new roundabout at the intersection of U.S. 41 and Gulf Stream Avenue.

The question is — should it stay or should it go? City leaders made it clear during their last commission meeting, they want the public’s input before making a decision.

City staff have since been working on a survey that will allow the public to share their thoughts and weigh in on the nine different locations still on the table.

The survey still hasn’t been released. That’s why some were surprised to see a tweet by Congressman Vern Buchanan earlier this week saying the statue will remain on the bayfront.

Here is what the message said in its entirety:

Officials with the City of Sarasota released a statement of their own the following day to clarify what was said in the congressman’s tweet.

“City Manager Tom Barwin had an excellent conversation with the Congressman and shared his impressions that City officials and he are receiving similar public input about the relocation of Unconditional Surrender. Mr. Barwin mentioned what is likely to occur based on recent consistent feedback.

Last week, Mr. Barwin directed staff to draft an online survey to gather additional public input about Unconditional Surrender, which must be relocated due to the upcoming 2021 construction of the US 41-Gulfstream Ave. roundabout. That survey is expected to be widely available to the public within the next 2-3 days. 

The City Commission will make the final decision on the relocation of Unconditional Surrender. The survey results will be included in the materials provided to the City Commission to be considered as part of its deliberations when it determines the location of the statue.

A date has not been scheduled for the City Commission to discuss the issue.”

8 On Your Side reached out to the congressman for comment Thursday.

“Knowing of my strong interest in keeping the statue, Tom called me and said the statue would remain at the Bayfront,” said Congressman Buchanan… I think it’s absolutely the right decision and I look forward to the commission’s formal vote,” he continued.

Vice-mayor Shelli Freeland Eddie is urging the public to participate in the survey as soon as it becomes available.

“Please go to our city’s website and participate in the survey and let us know what your thoughts are. That was the whole reason that I made the suggestion, so that no one’s opinion, preference, concern is left out and so that is exactly what we want to make sure that we do,” said the vice-mayor. “It is a city commission decision, but our decision is largely based upon the feedback and the considerations from staff and the financial impact. So to the community I would say, please participate and let us know what you want,” she continued.

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