440 days ago I posted Saving the palms of Palm Avenue, which was my entry into trying to save 26 cabbage palms on Palm Ave. On Tuesday, September 8th, 2015, sometime after 2:30, the Sarasota City Commission will consider a landscaping plan that does, in fact save all 26, although a few will be relocated on site.
Unfortunately, I suspect the owner of four of the adjacent storefronts and his allies will be there to argue against the plan, so I am asking you, on behalf of the palms, to contact the City Commissioners, ideally at the meeting, and, if that is not possible, before the meeting.
You can view the agenda item here.
There are many reasons to support the revised plan:
• The City Commission voted unanimously in August of 2014 to work on a plan than resolved the flooding/drainage issue and saved as many trees as possible. This plan does that. [Note two commissioners now serving were not serving at that time.]
• City Staff recommends acceptance of the proposed Concept Plan and approval of the Change Order.
• The previous plan removed all the palms -- that is, killed them all and sent them to the landfill.
• About one quarter of the palms predate Sarasota's incorporation as a City - they were planted in 1911 and, as far as we know, are the oldest urban landscape plantings remaining in the City. The City was unaware of the historic dimension of the these trees prior to research conducted by volunteers.
• The revised design does a better job of complying with Downtown Greenspace policies IV A.3 and V 3, which address protecting existing trees.
• The revised design will provide more shade than the previous design, making it more in compliance with Downtown Master Plan Principle 2.
• There is one species of tree (not three) making the revised plan congruent with Downtown Greenspace policy III B 1 and the Engineering Design Criteria Manual CS80-56 that call for a single species of tree.
• The cabbage palms have "clear trunks and high canopies" thus meeting criteria in the Engineering Design Criteria Manual CS80-56.
• The Downtown Improvement District Board, which previously had strenuously opposed saving the palms, failed to oppose the new plan on a 2-2 vote August 4th. Board member Ron Soto was not present at that meeting, but had submitted a document expressing his support for the new plan.