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Construction could force Sarasota kissing statue into storage

The decision remains in the hands of the city commission.
Credit: 10 Tampa Bay/Tim Burquest

SARASOTA, Fla. — One Sarasota City Commission meeting remains to decide the iconic "Unconditional Surrender" statue's fate.

Asking the question: Will it be relocated or temporarily head to storage?

The reason for the question at all is due to the anticipated construction of the roundabout at U.S. Highway 41 and Gulf Stream Avenue and the concern that the statue, along with other public art will be in the way.

The art, more commonly known as the "Kissing Statue," depicts the iconic photo of George Mendonsa kissing Greta Zimmer Friedman in Times Square and is often associated with the end of World War II. 

During a Public Art Committee meeting Wednesday, in a nearly split vote of 4-3 the board recommended the commission adopt a motion to temporarily store the iconic statue while construction is completed before re-installing it back at Bay Front Park. If the statue cannot return to the same place, the board asks that it is placed nearby its original location.

The construction causing the displacement is set to start in 2021 and last for 400 days. The project requires temporary diversion lanes and work zones to be constructed where the statue currently stands.

The commission has three options ahead of them, relocated the statue, store the statute or no longer own the statue that has been in the City since 2010.

It is estimated that disassembly, movement, reinstallation and the storage of the statue will cost approximately $65,000 or more.

According to Planning Director Steven Cover, no one showed up to testify on the art piece.

Commissioners need to make a final decision by October due to the pending construction. A meeting date has yet to be set.

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