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Friday, June 29, 2012

Update on TreeWatch and the Grove tree circus

Liliana Dones of TreeWatch will be on Channel 10 news tonight, explaining hers and TreeWatch's position on TreeWatch and the Coconut Grove streetscape and tree replacement plan. I also received the Commissioner's newsletter and wondered why he is only doing this in the Grove and not his whole district since it's such a great idea. Why not Brickell and the North East and Midtown and all the other District 2 trees? Why aren't they being destroyed removed and replaced?

Liliana writes:

I was interviewed as a member of TreeWatch today by Glenna Milberg of Channel 10 News regarding the trees they plan to remove in Coconut Grove. I guess this is a result of the Newsletter Commissioner Sarnoff circulated yesterday explaining his being in favor of the tree removals. I will likely get about a one minute soundbite, so in case it does not all come out, here is the point I was trying to make:

Of course TreeWatch is NOT "critical of doing anything that would remove these trees." We would hardly insist on keeping a tree that is a true hazard.

The trees of downtown Grove are in many different degrees of health, and our objective is to have the City pause and truly determine if a tree indeed needs to come down for reasons of hazard or convenience. For example, a Tamarind on Florida Avenue, marked for removal, was since reviewed again and determined that perhaps it is not in as bad a shape as to require removal. Yet it still has a permit for removal dangling over its canopy, so to speak, and we still have no idea if the tree will be cut or spared. We cannot appeal to, because the appeal was upheld by the HEP Board before it was determined to not be in as bad a shape. Another tree on the same block also permitted for removal was found to be in good condition by the horticulturist consulting the project, but it happens to be in the way of a desired (but totally unnecessary) valet cut out in front of a restaurant. One wonders if it was ever pointed out to the restaurateur, who is relatively new, that there is a perfectly good designated valet drop off across the street, not 12 feet away which in its day served not only the restaurant in the exact same spot,which was packed, but several others and the entire shopping complex. Now that street barely gets a car every 5 minutes. So why take the tree down? It is these little details that TreeWatch wants to bring to light, otherwise they get obfuscated during the planning stages.

Such efforts have worked well with the County. We met with them this week to review and walk 27th avenue to see each individual tree they have marked for cutting or transplanting during Phase 2 of the Improvements project. Of the 55+ trees they had designated for removal when they showed us the plan last year, now only 14 will be cut down, and that is because they are in very, very bad shape. Many will be saved and relocated, in some cases a few feet from where they stood. Recently, 2 mahoganies were spared getting cut down and are now in their new home in the green space at Seminole Boat ramp, where hopefully they can thrive.

Liliana Dones
Coconut Grove TreeWatch

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not do this in the Grove first? You complain all the time that business is down and that something has to be done about it. When somebody has an idea to beautify the streets you're quick to shoot em down. I call b.s.

June 29, 2012 5:39 PM  
Anonymous katie d said...

in what alternate universe does beautify mean cutting down beautiful trees?

June 30, 2012 3:27 AM  
Anonymous Abigail DuBearn said...

Thank you Liliana for standing up for the trees! The Grove is one of the coolest places in South Florida in large part due to the gorgeous canopies we have. Why don't the tree eradicators look at how South Miami encircles their trees with bricks to allow for good growth?

June 30, 2012 7:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Things to ponder. So the bricks are the issue and the law suits when people trip so why not replace the bricks? Why are they ripping down trees? The first anonymous commenter wrote business is down. Does anyone think and agree that having the sidewalks closed while this mess is going on for months will also drive business elsewhere? Also officials keep saying the experts? Has anyone looked into their credentials? Who says they are experts and why? You pay someone to say what you want and they will say what you want!

July 01, 2012 9:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


The absolutely most hilarious thing about this is that the idea of replacinng all the sidewalks in the Grove with brick sidewalks all those years ago was because the tree roots were cracking and pushing up the original pavement blocks and the bricks were thought to be easier to maintain and replace when the roots decided to do what tree roots do.

Perhaps the Chamber of Commerce and the BID should contact the people up in St Augustine and see how to maintain an area of the city and benefit the business owners, the resident and the tourists while keeping the historical accuracy and flavor intact and relatively unchanged.

July 02, 2012 10:22 AM  
Blogger GroveTreeWatch said...

Anon LOL:
This is not a Chamber of Commerce project. This is a Coconut Grove BID project in conjunction with City of Miami Capital Improvements Program.

You are precisely correct about the existing brick sidewalks. The reason the sidewalks were replaced back then with the existing bricks was so that they could "breathe" and go up and down to accommodate tree roots. I remember when they finished paving McFarlane in front of the Women's Club, which was way less than a decade ago. Same for Grand at Mary Street. I remember noting that the workers were using sand as a filler in between the bricks and asking about that and being told that it was so they could make the brick have the flexibility to move with tree roots.

Some of the loose bricks we see around town now are in fact nowhere near trees. Yet I have seen the same holes out there time and again and no steps are taken to replace the loose bricks and make it safe for pedestrians. The solution, apparently is to do nothing until they are all replaced. Yet wouldn't it be cheaper and more practical to simply replace them as needed? That is what is most irritating about all this concern for safety. They keep citing safety, and how people have tripped on the sidewalks, but the response is to make ia major money spending project out of it, instead of simply going and replacing the needed bricks.

By the way, the new brick sidewalks are going to look exactly like these, only they are going to be 3 inches thicker and interlocking. So why not put them in in the areas where they are truly needed?

Similarly, although there are some trees that are in varying degrees hazardous condition,nothing is done about it to make them safe. It is apparently easier to just say they need to "come down" then just leave them there in whatever condition they are in, until such a time as they can all be cut down en-masse, than it is to try and rescue individual trees, and correct a situation that may make it be a hazard.

It took forever to get a dangerous branch (hit by lightning and decaying) removed from the big black olive new the Indian restaurant on Commodore. It took all kinds of pushing from TreeWatch and the property owner, including the property owner actually hiring a horticulturist who had said the tree would be ok if the branch was removed, and offering to pay for said removal (even though the tree is n the public right of way and the City's responsibility) to finally have the branch removed. You see, the tree had already been "recommended for removal" in 2010, and even though that removal date was yet TBD, there was not enough concern to actually do something to protect passersby from the offending branch, until we made a big deal about it.

Another tree, on Florida Avenue was originally described to be in Good Condition in Lisa Hammer's 2010 report. Then a branch was hit by a delivery truck, and while one would think that perhaps it just needed the bad branch to be pruned and taken care of, instead the entire tree was "recommended for removal." Of course it is one of 3 trees being removed to make way for a valet drop off that is hardly necessary.

Please come to the Historic Preservation Board on July 20 at 12:30 when they will hear the TreeWatch Appeal for the Trees of Commodore Plaza. Be heard. -- TreeWatch

July 02, 2012 3:03 PM  
Anonymous Tree Service Queens said...

I believe we've all witnessed enough public take downs to finally stop asking why, but to act against with 'why not?' and plant trees right after, to cure the inside soul. Right?

-Carlos Hernandez

July 11, 2012 3:59 PM  

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