City Council passes appropriation bill to begin tree planting project in historic district

City Council passes appropriation bill to begin tree planting project in historic district
Decades-old trees on Park Street, looking north toward Willowbranch Library, provide a shady respite on a hot summer day.

Residents throughout City Council District 14 will soon see landscape companies digging holes and planting trees in their neighborhoods, thanks to approval by the Jacksonville City Council to spend almost $800,000 to add to the beauty and walkability of the historic district.

At its Feb. 26 meeting, the City Council unanimously approved a bill to appropriate $781,748 from the tree mitigation fund, also known as the Tree Protection & Related Expenses Trust Fund, for the planting of 382 trees throughout District 14.

The appropriation is the result of several months’ work last year by Riverside Avondale Preservation (RAP) to survey the canopy tree needs of the historic neighborhoods. 

RAP first introduced the ReLEAF project in May 2018, then began a house-to-house survey to collect data for more than 500 locations where residents wanted new trees in public right-of-way areas, parks and medians. The data was presented to City Arborist Kathleen McGovern and City Urban Forest Manager Richard Leon, who verified the locations and identified the appropriate tree type before submitting the estimate to the City.

Although RAP’s ReLEAF project only included Riverside and Avondale, District 14 Councilman Jim Love encouraged other neighborhoods in his district to piggyback on his bill, getting responses from Murray Hill, Fairfax, Lakeshore, Ortega, Ortega Forest, Ortega Farms, Venetia and other Westside neighborhoods.

The list, which was carefully selected by McGovern and Leon, includes 12 American Hornbeams, 13 Sycamores, 78 Live Oaks, 18 Shumard Oaks, 26 Overcup Oaks, two Swamp Chestnut Oaks, 21 Red Maples, 12 Sweetgums, 22 Tulip Poplars, 17 Bald Cypress, two Eagleston Holly, 10 Winged Elms, 49 Drake Elms, 38 Crape Myrtles, three Longleaf Pines, six Chinese Fringe Trees, four Southern Magnolias, four Little Gem Magnolias, 24 Dura-Heat River Birch, eight Pride of Houston Yaupon Hollies and 13 Fringe Trees.

The appropriation barely put a dent in the Tree Mitigation Fund, which has more than $25 million available for tree plantings in Duval County. To keep track of the amount available for use, to find information about tree planting projects, or to get detailed information on removing trees, visit jaxtreemitigation.coj.net.

Individual tree requests, including assessment of diseased or damaged trees in the right of way, can be made by contacting 630city.coj.net.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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