An appeal to stop the removal of trees on Commodore Plaza in downtown Coconut Grove will be considered at the Historic and Environmental Preservation Board meeting at 12:30 pm on Friday, July 20, at Miami City Hall, 3500 Pan American Drive.
The tree removal is part of a plan to renovate the brick sidewalks in the center Grove because tree roots uproot the sidewalks. But some Grove residents are skeptical of the need to remove trees that the city argues are hazardous or unhealthy beyond treatment.
Liliana Dones of Coconut Grove TreeWatch — who filed the appeal — said that the city has done little to maintain the sidewalks and the health of the trees. She wonders why the city hasn’t taken further measures to mitigate the risk of falling trees besides marking them for removal.
The trees slated for removal on Commodore, which are mostly black olive trees, will be replaced with golden showers and apple blossom showers of a minimum height of 12 feet, as well as roughly 20-foot-tall oak trees, according to the landscape architect for the project, Aida Curtis.
A primary concern of TreeWatch is the loss of tree canopy in the Grove. Dones wrote in the appeal that it would take many years for the new trees to provide the same quality canopy as there is today.
The tree replacement includes the use of a landscape technology called “Silva Cells,” which look like large milk crates that direct tree roots to grow downward. The city believes the Silva Cells will keep the new trees from uprooting the sidewalks and encourage a flourishing canopy for future generations to enjoy.
Commissioner Marc Sarnoff wrote in a letter to the editor on July 3 that the city’s plan “balances the needs of today with those of tomorrow.”
An online petition set up by TreeWatch states, “We encourage the planting of new trees, but not at the cost of trees we currently have.” The petition goes on to ask “that the City and County explore ways to safeguard our existing trees in order to promote their health and longevity.”
The petition has 514 signatures so far.
Previous appeals tried to stop tree removals on Florida Avenue and Virginia and Mary Streets. Neither were successful. Dones expects this appeal to be turned down by the Board as well.
The agenda for Friday’s meeting can be found at www.historicpreservationmiami.com