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City commissioners approve funding for living seawall at Sarasota Bayfront

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SARASOTA, FL (WWSB) - A living seawall got the green light from Sarasota City Commissioners Monday afternoon.

It will go in front of the current seawall that's being built at O'Leary's Tiki Bar and Grill on the Sarasota Bayfront.

"It's a way to improve traditional seawalls, it's modules that go in front of traditional seawalls that help habitat come in and live near the walls and it also helps deflect wave energy," said Stevie Freeman-Montes, a Sustainability Manager with the City of Sarasota.

This 250-foot living seawall will be very similar to the one constructed in Palmetto and will be made up of reef balls. The city will be working closely with Mote Marine Lab on this project. 

Experts say, in addition to it attracting lots of marine life, it also has environmental benefits and will help protect the regular seawall from erosion.  Christine Finn of Lakewood Ranch visits O'Leary's with her family many times a year.  She is excited to hear about this project.

"I think it's great, they're definitely respecting the environment, doing the right thing and I like that," said Finn.

Sarasota City Commissioners voted 4-1 in favor of the $46,000 needed to get the project off the ground. Hagen Brody was the commissioner who voted against the living seawall.

"It's really an experimental thing for Mote Marine to do some research for which I am all for," said Brody. "However we do have some budget issues currently and I think that we have a couple of more important items to address."

City officials tell us it should take about four months from beginning to end to complete the project. The living seawall is expected to be in the water by late fall.