City Officials, Stakeholders Agree to New Plan of Action, Postpone Walking Tour

City officials and community stakeholders are coming together to revisit the process of Lake Park’s tree removals. Because of the unique nature of Lake Park’s aesthetic and the specific impact the tree removal will have on the neighborhood, an independent arborist is going to assess the trees scheduled for removal and provide an additional report that either confirms the need to remove trees or provide a preservation/maintenance strategy. Because this report will not be ready by Saturday, June 23, 2018, Lake Park’s tree walking tour is postponed to Saturday, June 30, 2018 at 9:00am – after the independent arborist’s report is published.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused anyone but are thankful to the city for offering our neighborhood this specific opportunity. In the end, we may not be happy with the results, but the process will be thorough, thoughtful, and candid. The City has the responsibility of managing both the preservation of trees in Naples and ensuring the public is protected from a trees potential to fail. At times, these responsibilities may appear to conflict following a natural disaster such as Hurricane Irma and the highest priority must be to ensure public safety. We are grateful for the Community Services Department work in our neighborhood, specifically City Arborist Heather Shields, Parks and Parkways Superintendent (and arborist) Jim Hodgdon, and Community Services Director Dana Souza.

Additionally, I would like to thank County Commissioner Penny Taylor, City Manager Bill Moss, City Council, our neighborhood association, and the Community Services Department. Each of these individuals and groups have worked together to create the best possible process for our community, despite whatever may come of our trees. We are truly blessed as a neighborhood, city, and community to have such wonderful and engaged group of people seeking the best outcome for Lake Park.

City to Remove 15 Damaged Hard Wood Trees in Lake Park

The City of Naples is continuing with the removal of street and park trees that have been damaged by Hurricane Irma. This project is expected to begin in early June and be complete by the end of August.

City staff identified the trees with spray painted white X’s that you might have noticed over the past week or two. This effort is led by Heather Shields, City Arborist, who wrote in a letter to residents, “The primary function of my job is to preserve the street and park trees that make Naples a unique and beautiful community. Sadly, my responsibilities also include identifying and removing trees that have been subjected to disease or damage. While we make every effort to save trees, those that pose a risk to public safety or simply are not sustainable considering the amount of decline or damage they have experienced, must be removed.”

There’s good news and bad news. First, the bad.

The City currently does not have concrete plans or funding in place to replace the trees any time soon (we are talking 5-10 years, maybe more). Worse, any trees under power lines will not be replaced with another major-story tree (e.g. mahogany trees). Only smaller trees that will not grow into the power lines can be planted in the future. This effort is certain to change the Lake Park’s canopy, specifically 13th Street North, where 8 hardwood Mahogany trees are to be removed for health and safety reasons. (Full disclosure: I live on 13th Street North and one of the trees sits on my property).

City staff has been working on developing the final scope of work for tree removals, stump grinding and pruning projects for several months. The development of the tree removal project includes assessments by several arborists, including the Florida Urban Forest Strike Team, City staff (who are certified arborists through the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA)), and FEMA staff.

Once the project parameters were established, staff bid the project and City Council voted to fund the effort on June 6th. City staff informed Lake Park residents and our HOA which trees in Lake Park were subject to removal after City Council awarded the contract.

White X’s on City trees triggered several calls of concern to City staff before the June 6th vote, prompting a meeting between city officials and residents of Coquina Sands. However, no such X’s had yet been painted in Lake Park (or at least on 13th Street North), preventing our community from receiving constructive notice about the tree removals to address this issue with City Council before their vote. Additionally, the City has a September deadline to remove the trees in order to be reimbursed by federal hurricane money.

Now, the good:

I’ve personally voiced these concerns to city officials and political leaders. They have been understanding of my criticism, welcoming of dialogue, and empathetic to our neighborhood reeling from this decision.

City Arborist Heather Shields, Jim Hodgdon, Parks and Parkways Superintendent (also an arborist) and Dana Souza, Community Services Director have made the good faith effort to meet with residents regarding the tree removals by offering a walking tour of Lake Park and explaining the reasoning behind their decisions before any tree is removedWe thank the Community Services Department and Heather Shields for this effort of good will and community outreach. I’m also reaching out to some golf cart owners to help shepherd the group around. If you or a neighbor have a golf cart and would like to help, please let me know.

Well, a wiser fellow than myself once said, sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes the bar, well, he eats you.

List of Trees to be Removed

Street Location Tree Type
11th St N 1323 Black Olive
12th Ave N 1253 Mahogany
13th St N 996 Mahogany
13th St N 1055 Mahogany
13th St N 1354 Mahogany
13th St N 1291 10th Ave N Mahogany
7th Ave N 684 12th St N Ficus
7th Ave N 684 12th St N Ficus
8th Terr 1182 Ficus
11th St N 694 Royal
11th St N 1089 Broad Ave N Royal
12th St N Across from 1265 Mahogany
13th Ave N 1255 Royal
13th St N 1291 10th Ave N Mahogany
13th St N 891 Mahogany
13th St N 905 Mahogany
13th St N 861 Mahogany
8th Ave N 1075 Ficus