The deadline for an agreement on the purchase and donation of Unconditional Surrender was extended once again Monday evening.
Discussion among the sculpture’s owners; Jack Curran, the World War II veteran who wants to buy it, and the city began 11 months ago. City commissioners extended the deadline for the agreement until Friday, June 11.
Curran wants to buy the sculpture for $500,000 and donate it to the city if it stays on the bayfront for at least 10 years. City officials fear because Unconditional Surrender closely resembles a famous Life magazine photo from Times Square that the city could be subject to a lawsuit.
The city is looking for a financial guarantee from the seller that if a copyright-infringement suit is filed against the city for accepting the statue that taxpayers’ money will not be at risk.
The seller’s attorney, Dan Bailey, said that guarantee will be delivered before Friday. That promise was good enough for three commissioners, Mayor Kelly Kirschner, Vice Mayor Fredd Atkins and Commissioner Dick Clapp.
Commissioners Terry Turner and Suzanne Atwell continued their opposition to accepting the sculpture because of the lawsuit risk.
In other City Commission action:
• The Sarasota Orchestra asked the city to reconsider rental rate increases at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall that have climbed 94% during the past three years. City Manager Bob Bartolotta said the increases were the result of the city’s effort to relieve the taxpayer subsidy that had kept the Van Wezel in operation.
• Commissioners approved of a Five Points Park improvement plan that will see the concrete wall surrounding the park removed, a brick pathway installed that bisects the park and new landscaping planted.
• Bartolotta asked the commission to forecast the economy for the next two years, so management can prepare the budget appropriately. The consensus was that the city should expect property-tax revenues to continue to fall 10% annually, but the rest of the revenue sources would remain flat.
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