Park & King merchants take proactive approach to trees

When it comes to district beautification projects, District 14 Councilman Jim Love isn’t letting the grass grow under his feet.

As president of the Park & King Streets Merchants Association, Love is taking advantage of the recently settled tree mitigation lawsuit to tap into $20 million in funds in order to replace aging Bradford pear trees in seven medians on King Street, between College and Park Streets.

At the association’s Dec. 14 meeting, Love invited City of Jacksonville Urban Forest Manager Richard Leon and the newly hired City Arborist Kathleen McGovern to present recommendations on the types of trees which could replace those planted nearly 15 years ago when an underground utility project allowed the medians to be planted.

Leon and McGovern provided three types of trees – the American Hornbeam, the Bald Cypress and the Winged Elm – along with two types of ground cover, dwarf Mondo grass and perennial peanut grass, for discussion.

Approximately 25 trees would be replaced, at a ballpark cost of $40-60,000, depending on which trees the association selects. Love, whose State Farm insurance agency is located on King Street, plans to go door-to-door to businesses in the Park & King Retail Corridor to ask for opinions.

The soil in the seven medians will also need to be replaced to give the new trees and grasses a healthy growing environment. In addition, the association will pay to have a small strip of pavers laid across the median in front of Kickbacks restaurant as there is a lot of foot traffic crossing King Street mid-block between Post and College Streets.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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