Based on a risk assessment, the Hollywood Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) has decided to remove 13 copper pods from the Historic District that spans two blocks as part of a beautification project, generating some concern from residents who love the shade trees.
The scope of the project includes new landscape, festoon lighting and lighting curtains and four new decorative poles with CC-TV security cameras.
While local business owners have been eagerly anticipating the commencement of this project, the city is facing opposition from concerned residents, specifically about the 13 trees.
Karen Caputo, President of Friends of Hollywood, Florida, strongly disagrees with the decision. She believes that the CRA leaders are more concerned about nightlife, and doubts that the trees will be replaced at all. If they are, however, Caputo considers Bismarckia palms to be unsuitable for the area.
According to Jorge Camejo, Executive Director of the Hollywood CRA, the health of the trees is not the issue, it’s the structural damage to the trees many of which are in fair to poor condition, that makes them unsafe to leave in place. As the trees are nearing the end of their useful life in an urban setting, there’s little to be done to improve their condition. He stresses that the center canopy of 27 oak and tamarind trees will not be affected and will continue to flourish.
A comprehensive analysis by horticultural consultant Lisa Hammer, RCA reveals that over-pruning of the copper pod trees (commonly referred to as yellow poinciana) has resulted in an increased likelihood of potential trunks breaking and falling as they age. The trees in question are close to businesses where patrons sit outside. There is substantial foot traffic and the chance of a falling branch hitting a pedestrian is likely even in normal weather conditions.
The aging copper pods be replaced by 51 other trees, many of which will be Bismarckia palms. These palms will provide a solid tree canopy, and Camejo believes that they’ll actually be better suited for the downtown area.
Of the 35 downtown business owners who participated in a survey about the project, all but one support the effort.
“I am thrilled with the proposed makeover for Downtown Hollywood,” said Gregory von Hausch Cinema Paradiso Hollywood. “The District is a diamond in the very rough, desperately in need of polish. The present condition of the trees greatly diminishes the allure of Downtown. The lighting plan is fantastic. It will add a continuity and greatly enhance visitor attraction. Please count on the Board of The Broward County Film Society, Inc. to fully support this initiative.”
The CRA encourages concerned citizens to stop by the office to learn more about the trees and master plan. “Everyone who has been here to learn more about it has left in favor of the plan,” said Camejo.
For more information, call the CRA at 954-924-2980.
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