Coral Gables

Coral Gables residents can track status of city trees via free online website

The majestic string of Banyan trees on Granada Golf Course are being cut as part of renovations, which is upsetting to some residents in Coral Gables on Tuesday, June 9, 2015.
The majestic string of Banyan trees on Granada Golf Course are being cut as part of renovations, which is upsetting to some residents in Coral Gables on Tuesday, June 9, 2015. Miami Herald File

Coral Gables residents sure love their trees — so much so, they can now track them through a free online website.

“Our residents are very, very interested in their trees,” said Brook Dannemiller, the city’s landscape services director.This just gives them one more tool to get an overall view of our urban forest. It also gives them the ability to see where their tax dollars are going.”

As part of the City’s tree succession project, 3,000 missing or diseased trees and palms will be replaced throughout the city. The $3 million initiative came after city officials decided in March it was highly needed.

Dead trees — mostly oaks, mahoganys and coconut palms — will be ripped away and replaced with new, healthy ones during the 10-to-12 month project. Areas that lack trees will also get makeovers. The initiative started in June.

So in an effort to keep residents informed and “worry-free” about their trees, the city gave them access to every step of the project through a free comprehensive website called myTreeKeeper, available on any computer device.

Website visitors can view details on the status of each of the 38,000 trees in the city, as well as information on the 3,000 that will be removed and replaced.

“Residents can go in and see the inventory for all our trees. They can see when a tree has been staked, removed and planted. They call also see which trees in the city are ‘gold metal trees’ — the trees that are the best performing,” Dannemiller said. “This is an effective communication tool where you can track the tree succession project, so instead of everyone being curious when trees are starting to be planted, and instead of waiting for a city email, they can just check exactly where we are every day.”

On Thursday, city officials said they received about a dozen calls from concerned residents regarding four trees on the Granada Golf Course, which is going through a separate $500,000 renovation. The calls questioned four trees that were being removed and replaced.

City spokeswoman Maria Higgins-Fallon said she wanted to encourage residents to use the website to track the trees that correspond to the tree succession project.

“There are four trees — two black olive trees and two poincianas — around the Granada Golf Course that have to be removed because they are either dead, diseased or not structurally sound. They will then be replaced,” Higgins-Fallon said. “On the website people will be able to see the status of each one.”

The tree website has received 800 hits as of Thursday, she said.

Coral Gables has been named a Tree City USA for the last three consecutive decades by the National Arbor Foundation, and selected as a Playful City USA for six years in a row by KaBOOM!, a national nonprofit organization that helps communities build playgrounds for children.

After 10-12 months of planting, contractor SFM Services will be responsible for the planting of the trees and palms, as well as the watering and maintenance of the trees for one year after the trees are planted.

About 12 to15 months after planting, SFM will remove the tree bracings and soil watering rings from around each tree and palm.

“And even if you’re not someone that likes trees, this program helps convey the importance on greenhouse gases, and other benefits,” Dannemiller said. “A lot of people don’t understand the benefits of trees; they have much more value other than aesthetics.”

MyTreeKeeper lets viewers see how their trees can contribute to property values, air quality benefits, water benefits, energy benefits and greenhouse gas benefits (how many pounds of CO2 avoided and sequestered, how many gallons of water are saved, how many kilowatts of energy are saved, how many pounds of pollutants are saved), and how leaf surface area contributes to property benefits.

Other cities in Florida that have used the site include North Miami, Southwest Ranches, Orlando and Altamonte Springs, as well as dozens of others nationwide.

“We have a lot of data on our trees,” Dannemiller said. “People who choose to live in the Gables, probably choose because of our tree canopy; it’s what makes us unique.”

Zone schedules

The new trees will be planted in five zones moving from north to south and west to east. The slated schedule for each zone is below. The removals, relocations, and plantings of coconut palms, will be accounted for separately from June to October.

Neighborhood Maps

Expected Phase Dates

Zone 1

June 2015 - August 2015

Zone 2

August 2015 - November 2015

Zone 3

November 2015 - February 2016

Zone 4

February 2016 - June 2016

Zone 5

April 2016 - June 2016

Coconut Palms (All Zones)

June 2015 - October 2015