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Treasure Island may replace palms
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Up to 36 palm trees that line Paradise Boulevard in Treasure Island may be sold by the city because they are encroaching on Progress Energy power lines.
TREASURE ISLAND – Paradise Boulevard will have a significantly different look in the near future if the city follows through on a proposal to sell and replace 36 of the street’s Canary Island Date palm trees.

At the Dec. 18 City Commission workshop, Stacie Wakefield, owner of Palmscapes By Design of Lakeland, attended the meeting and offered to purchase 36 of the palm trees that line the median of the street. Wakefield’s company would pay the city $30,000 for the trees.

In turn, the company would install 38 royal palms to replace the Canary Island Date Palm trees.

Palmscapes By Design would then warranty the new trees for up to six months following the installation. Part of the reason Wakefield made her bid is that the trees in question have now reached a height where the fronds are interfering with Progress Energy power lines, which are also placed in the median of the street. At some point Progress Energy will trim the fronds. This could damage the trees or leave them vulnerable to a disease which would kill the trees.

If, by chance, the spear leaf of the tree, otherwise known as the “bud” or “heart” of the tree is damaged during trimming, it could kill the tree.

The current Canary Island Date Palm trees would be replaced by royal palms because the royal palms, Wakefield suggested, are resistant to various diseases that are known to afflict local palm trees such as lethal yellowing or Texas Phoenix palm decline.

City Manager Reid Silverboard said the two alternatives to saving the current trees if they are not sold to Wakefield would be to underground the lines or move the lines. Both projects would be costly, although the latter not as much.

If the commission agreed to sell the trees, the entire project of removal and replacement could take roughly six months Silverboard said.

“The palms do make a dramatic statement to the entrance (of the street),” Silverboard said.

In speaking with Progress Energy officials, Silverboard was informed if the trees are not soon trimmed, they could be “problematic” with the power lines.

Commissioner Bob Minning suggested the issue should be broached with a community organization representing that neighborhood to see if the residents might be inclined to have the power lines placed underground.

“The underground costs are scary,” Minning said.

Commissioner Alan Bildz was all in favor of selling the trees to Wakefield.

“If we can make some money we should support it,” Bildz said.

Minning was willing to hold off on a decision until the city can get “definitive word” from Progress Energy as to what it plans to do with the trees and power lines.
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