From the air, Miami Springs looks like a green triangle bordered by cement. On the ground, however, the locals have turned red waiting to have their trees pruned.
“I have been waiting since last February,” said Gloria Ayala, who has trouble accessing her home from an alley because of low-hanging tree branches. “Now it’s hurricane season.”
City trees near her home, she says, only get trimmed when garbage trucks or other large vehicles clip by them.
Last year, the city contracted with Hialeah-based Raydel Landscaping Corp. annually for $63,000 in landscaping services and $105,000 in “tree trimming, removal and disposal services,” records show. The city retains the right to terminate the contract.
Raydel submitted a bid to the city to trim 2,880 trees for $35 each on an “as-needed basis,” according to the bid form. Another 120 trees were added on a line below, which brings the total to 3,000 trees for $105,000.
Locals are serious when it comes to their trees. Miami Springs earned its “Tree City USA” designation in 1994 and has set up a tree board, a tree-protection ordinance, developed a community forestry program and scheduled an annual Arbor Day observance.
“Since October, they (Raydel) have trimmed approximately 600 trees, and they currently have another 200 work orders in their hands,” said Tom Nash, the city’s director of public works. “Recently, with the weather and a few mechanical problems, they have fallen behind.”
Raydel has trimmed an average of 70 trees a month, according to Nash, but records show that taxpayers are paying for an average of 250 trees to be trimmed each month.
Last December, Biscayne Park hired Raydel to trim trees for $10,000 annually, records show.
“I can only imagine what will happen should the city suffer a wind event that requires the immediate removal of damaged trees,” said Rosie Buckner, who, after waiting three months for her son’s trees to be trimmed, called the city. “They were handled by the private company within 24 hours of my second request.”
Raydel works in the city on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, added Nash, unless there are “issues.”
Messages left at a phone number listed for Raydel seeking comment were not returned.
“I can’t give a specific time frame on trimming, as each day brings different circumstances,” Nash wrote in an email to the Herald. “When someone wants a tree trimmed, it does not mean it needs trimming.”
Nash said that his department does not follow up with courtesy calls, but “perhaps that is something to consider.”
In the meantime, he advised residents to call the city for updates regarding tree-trimming requests at 305-805-5000.