First part of shoreline stabilization project completed at O’Leary’s in Sarasota’s Bayfront Park

Second phase to entail ‘living seawall’

The new seawall is visible at O’Leary’s. Photo courtesy City of Sarasota

A 240-foot-long shoreline stabilization seawall at Bayfront Park, adjacent to O’Leary’s Tiki Bar, has been completed, Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin announced last week.

“The timing couldn’t have been better with it being finished ahead of schedule and just before the arrival of Hurricane Irma,” Barwin pointed out in his Oct. 6 newsletter.

“The seawall was installed to protect the shoreline by minimizing erosion,” he added.

The second phase of the project, which entails construction of a “living seawall,” is in the design stage, Barwin noted.

Staff is working with Reef Innovations, a local firm, to design and install concrete modules that “will absorb more velocity, helping to restore the area for wildlife habitat and minimize erosion elsewhere,” Barwin continued. “We’re also working with Mote [Marine Laboratory] scientists to better understand and document the impacts of wave action and how the living seawall can mitigate these forces. Together, these measures will help maintain this valuable City asset and future shoreline and habitat preservation and restoration efforts,” he wrote.

On a 4-1 vote on July 17, the City Commission approved the living seawall initiative after a discussion that included an assertion from the design team that the structure also would be an attraction to tourists, as artistic elements would be added to the top of it.

Only Commissioner Hagen Brody opposed the project, saying it seemed “like a frivolous expenditure.”

The total cost would not exceed $300,000, Stevie Freeman-Montes, the city’s sustainability manager, told the board. About $100,000 of that will come out of funds the city has received from the BP settlement over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, she added.