The ailing eucalyptus trees at Eleanor Pardee Park will be removed and replaced by other species in March under a plan approved by the City Council Monday night (Jan. 10).
The council voted 8-1, with Nancy Shepherd dissenting, to remove all trees simultaneously rather than in phases, as staff had recommended. The council reached its decision after hearing from dozens of residents, most of whom characterized the old trees as a hazard.
The controversy over the trees hinged in part on $23,500, about $13,500 less than a staff proposal to fell these trees in two phases. Greg Betts, director of the Community Services Department, said splitting the process into phases would ensure that the park will have at least some trees to provide shade before the new ones are planted.
The controversy began about a year ago when a limb fell next to Ron Eadie, a Crescent Park resident who was walking in the park. Eadie attended Monday's meeting and encouraged the council to remove the trees.
"This isn't about aesthetics, it's about safety -- and you don't compromise on safety," Eadie said.
The council agreed with Eadie's argument and decided to remove the old eucalyptus trees in what Mayor Sid Espinosa called a "gut-wrenching decision." Councilman Greg Scharff, who proposed removing the trees in one step, called it a difficult decision but said the "weight of things tends to be on public safety."
Just after the vote, Eadie said his family will donate $5,000 for the replanting of new trees -- an announcement that was greeted with applause from the council.
The new trees are scheduled to be planted in March.
Pardee Park, located at Channing Avenue and Center Street, is the site of the former city tree nursery, where many of the city's heralded street trees were nurtured. The nursery was relocated in the 1970s and later closed.