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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

About saving the Coconut Grove trees

On July 20 at 12:30 pm  Treewatch will, once again,  go before the Historic Preservation Board in an effort to  save as many trees as possible from the 11 they want to cut down on Commodore Plaza.  It will not be easy.  We are going against the Coconut Grove BID, which  will bring their paid consultants, their entire board, and an entourage populated by their friends-and-family plan, to argue that the sidewalks are "dangerous" that the trees are hazardous and that business in the Grove will improve as a result of this plan, which involves not just cutting down trees on Commodore, but the entire BID footprint that encompasses downtown Coconut Grove.

So far, this project is removing 9 trees on Florida, 3 on Mary 2 on Virginia and the 11 marked for cutting on Commodore. It will not stop with these 25 trees.  This is only Phase One. Looming in the near future is the fate of another 20 trees on Fuller that are also part of this design plan.  And they are not unhealthy.

Phase 2 of the project targets the trees on Grand and Main,  and you can bet that will be a lot more trees getting the ax, considering their rule of thumb that any tree that has some sort of defect is hazardous.

The fear factor has always been a persuasive strategy to get the masses to conform. The working strategy for tree removal by the BID is that the trees are  compromised in some sort of way that makes  them a possible hazard. This plan is supported by Commissioner Sarnoff, who recently dedicated an entire eblast "Newsletter" and a Miami Herald Op-Ed piece to the need to cut down these trees in order to make way for new trees to be planted along Commodore.  In his recent eblast, Commissioner Sarnoff cited as examples, trees that recently were damaged by a windstorm last month.   He pointed out that horticulturist Lisa Hammer predicted this would happen.  So now we are all supposed to be afraid that all the trees Ms Hammer suggested for removal could come down at any time.  But the truth is, any tree could come down at any given time.  Even healthy trees. All it takes is a hit by lightning. Or by a car. or by a Chainsaw.

Steps can be taken to maintain our trees in better health and in safer conditions, but nothing seems to be in place other than marking them for removal.  It took repeated pushing on our part to get a tree on Commodore in the public right of way to have a dangerous branch removed (apparently, it was easier to just designate the entire tree as "unsafe" in Ms Hammer's 2010 report, and pile it on to the group of trees designated for removal, regardless of whether the branch was an imminent danger). Similarly, the branch on the tree in Virginia could have been pruned thus avoiding its subsequent  falling as a result of the windstorm.

There are trees on the Hammer report that are being marked for removal simply for being an "outdated species."   As for the dangerous sidewalks, again, no upkeep.   There are places were bricks have been loose or missing for months, even years. Yet, where is the concern for safety? Why aren't the bricks replaced at once?  Is it simply easier to just let things deteriorate, declare it all a hazard, and redecorate?  The Silva-cell project is only being used here in Coconut Grove, specifically by the Coconut Grove Business Improvement District for this particular project because they have the money in place for this expenditure, and they seem to want to use this Silva Cell system very, very much.

There is only one firm in the entire world that makes the Silva Cell system. And they therefore can dictate the price. Commissioner Sarnoff recently said in his interview with Channel 10 that the cost per tree for Silva Cell is about $3,000. Yet Aida Curtis, of the landscape firm they hired for this project, Curtis and Rogers, when asked at a hearing last fall (Sep 12) specifically how much it would cost, said $7,500 per tree location (the tree would be an additional $1,500).  Regardless of the price, the  Silva Cell can only be installed with new trees.  To plant new trees in the Grove, they seem to need to cut down the "old trees."

On July 20 at 12:30 pm in City Hall, TreeWatch will go and fight to save these trees.  We need you support and attendance. (it is the last item on the agenda, so you can get there later perhaps around one if your time is limited).

Like us on Facebook, and please sign the petition:

Liliana Dones 

founding member, TreeWatch

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Anonymous Harry Emilio Gottlieb said...

What is so special about Coconut Grove trees that they require the expensive Silva Cell Tree System?
Somehow the trees in Coral Gables, South Miami, Bal Harbour, Aventura and Miami Beach don’t seem have a need for a Silva Cell Tree System

July 17, 2012 11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right on Harry! The City has now set a precedent that any tree deemed unsafe by any so called specialist will be able to be removed. This will include private homeowners, businesses, developers and anyone else that wants to cut down their trees. From what we hear this is already happening when people are applying for tree removal permits. Lots again throughout Coconut Grove are being cleared of all trees using this strategy as a guise. A vacant lot set for development at 3205 Kirk Street (near Kennedy park) was just allowed to remove 7 amazing old trees permit number BD-12-004357-001. The tree plan was a joke and the developer removed every living thing on the lot but they had a permit. Same thing happened a few months back on Trapp Ave, developer had a permit for 4 trees and took out every living thing on the lot. We might as well start calling Coconut Grove , Kendall!

July 17, 2012 1:56 PM  
Anonymous Tree Trimmer Hendersonville said...

Why exactly do they keep dancing to the tune of it all about being money? Removing trees will improve business, 1. Big deal and 2. Money isn't helping our planet's ecosystem problems right now.

-Tony Salmeron

July 17, 2012 4:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know what the big deal is about removing old trees and planting new ones. The city isn't cementing over tree lined sidewalks. Furthermore, the Grove canopy is actually increasing from the 27th avenue renovations near Bayshore where several oaks have been planted in a median that didn't exist a year ago. This something I haven't heard anyone comment on.

July 17, 2012 4:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right on Anon. I noticed that in this entire article it never once did they state the replacement of trees, just the removal of them. Then the vague reference of government graft involving the Silva-cell systems. I have no love for the current administration, but the spin in this article does not make me want to support the tree watch.

July 17, 2012 6:41 PM  
Anonymous Ali said...

In their fantasies they will cut the big Black Olive on Commodore Plaza, on the other hand let them give extra sidewalks and other gifts to their friends, they are good friends after all.

July 18, 2012 6:28 PM  

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