Monday, October 28, 2013

Save your trees, not mine

Yesterday we took a tour of some Complete Streets, or nearly so, around Tampa.  One of the concerns we raised is the ongoing issue with the median maintenance on US-41 through Lutz.  The medians there are overgrown, poorly maintained, full of debris... and have been so for the better part of a year.

The question of the day is if we can't even maintain some existing medians in the county, what will happen with the complete streets being developed and planned for the community?

Unkempt median at the US-41 apex in Lutz
Well one answer appears to be ... Do it yourself!
LUTZ — Though a $5,000 donation by Wal-Mart has provided a reprieve for trees and shrubs once threatened with removal from a U.S. 41 median, Hillsborough County officials are looking for volunteers interested in helping to maintain the landscape.
A gathering for prospective volunteers is planned at 6:30 p.m., Oct. 29, at the Lutz Community Center, 98 First Ave. N.W.
Emphasis mine.  

Some private donations from Walmart, up the road on US-41, are welcome, to help clean up the mess.

But where is the county on this?  Did they not budget for median maintenance?  If they did, can those of us in the Lutz US-41 get some of our taxes back?  Apparently not...
The Florida Department of Transportation installed the landscaping years ago. After the state determined it could not afford upkeep, the county assumed maintenance. A commercial landscaper began providing free maintenance for the median about five years ago, but stopped in 2012, according to the county. Before the state would reassume responsibility of a median, the county was required to remove trees and shrubs and plant Bahia sod, which led to the county’s controversial plan.
Yet back in Tampa, in the ritzy Hyde Park neighborhood, the city of Tampa is helping the community replace aging and dying oak trees.
Laurel oaks, many of which were planted when the neighborhood first flourished in the early 20th century, have stood tall and provided shade for decades. The scenic neighborhood even is a popular location for commercial photographic and video shoots.
But with many of the trees reaching the end of their lifespans, Hyde Park Preservation Inc. is working with the city to remove and replace them.

Members of the neighborhood association this year have coordinated with officials in the city’s natural resources department to remove and replace about 100 dead or diseased trees lining neighborhood streets.
The city is providing the new trees through its Treemendous Tampa program, which provides free trees to residents and neighborhood associations. Mayor Bob Buckhorn has challenged the program to add 1,000 trees on city land each year.

Earlier this month, the neighborhood association’s board of directors allocated $15,000 to buy oak trees more mature than the ones typically provided by the Treemendous Tampa program.
So Tampa is providing trees to Hyde Park.  They've put some of their own money to upgrade to more mature trees.  That's fine with us.  However, the article does not state the cost of the trees it is offering to the city of Tampa.
For Hyde Park residents, the trees help give the historic neighborhood the “southern charm” for which it is known, Walker said.

“I think anybody from Tampa knows that this is Tampa when they come to Hyde Park,” he said. “It’s kind of a unique neighborhood.”
Ramm agreed: “The trees are important because it’s the character of the neighborhood. It just gives a nice, quiet feeling in a very urban area.”
But in Lutz, trees and maintained medians are not important, and it's apparently not in the character of the suburbs to have trees.

Unless you want to do it yourself.

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