Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Trees are Safe!!!! The Yellow Tape is Gone for Good.

At last night’s (Tuesday) commission meeting we heard that the city is working with Broward County and FDOT to try to figure out a way to be able to use the grant money to improve the Hillsboro Boulevard Landscaping and not cut the trees, that would involve FDOT revisiting their rules, but if that can’t be done, our city will refuse the grant and not cut the trees. Phew!!

Here’s how it started. In 2008 the city applied to Broward County for a Broward Beautiful Grant, to landscape the Hillsboro median. The grant was awarded and the commission approved the grant agreement which said that the city would landscape the median and replace DAMAGED trees. Nothing in that 2008 agreement said anything about taking out healthy trees.

Then in 2010 when the plan was developed it was found that if the medians were to be redone at all, they all had to meet FDOT guidelines. So the plan was drawn which had most of the trees coming out.

Here is where the outrage starts.

The commission agreed to this plan with no resident meetings or input. How anyone could see this plan and not reject it is totally beyond me. I am told that the commissioners understood that the removal was mandated by FDOT and they agreed without questioning the facts. Not one commissioner, before voting for the plan in 2010, questioned this.

Kathy Maggie, a resident, alerted some of us and researched the paperwork, finding the original agreement which didn’t mention cutting healthy trees. She enlisted Commissioner Ganz who agreed to look further and uncovered more details. FDOT did not mandate the trees come out. Only that if the city was to redo the landscaping, then they had to comply with current guidelines. If the city did nothing except maintain the median as they have done all along, the trees could stay.

Also, after finding out that the yellow tape on the trees meant they would be axed, (and some being alerted by Kathy, Joan Maurice and me), residents flooded the city and the county with outraged letters, phone calls and emails, if they hadn’t we would be now looking at stumps instead of the beautiful canopy of trees.

Broward Commissioner Kristin Jacobs office told me that:

“…if all of you and the elected would not have banned together to ‘shake the trees’, as they say, we would not have been able to get to the hold (temporary stop order on the project).”

Saving this beautiful canopy, of native to our area trees, is enormous. The city tree canopy that I, up to now, took for granted was envisioned over 25 years ago by our then City Forester Zeke Landis. Mr. Landis is largely responsible for the planting of the stately wind resistant mahogany, live oak and other trees all around our city. He had a vision of Deerfield Beach as the Tree City and made it happen.

We owe a big thanks to the late Mr. Landis for our green city. And we can pat ourselves on the backs for saving Mr. Landis’ trees for future generations.

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