33 trees planned for removal at Greer Park

Public discussion with city officials set for Tuesday evening

Neighborhood leaders and Palo Alto officials will hold a public meeting Tuesday evening (Oct. 18) to discuss the planned removal of 33 trees at Greer Park.

Concerned members of the Midtown Residents Association said they were holding the meeting to avoid another tree-cutting "debacle" such as the clear-cutting that occurred on California Avenue in 2009.

City of Palo Alto officials will present the proposed plan and seek public comment regarding replacement trees at Tuesday's meeting.

The city's Public Works Department notified residents living near the park in September of plans to remove the trees, many of which city arborists say are dead, dying or diseased.

Residents who are sensitive about the number of trees that have been removed in South Palo Alto in recent years said they wanted input in the process.

Neighborhood leaders said the planned removal of all of the trees at one time is concerning. Residents also want assurances that the trees will be replaced, said Peggy Kenny, the Midtown Resident Association's media-relations chairwoman.

Public Works arborists found that 13 of the trees are dead, dying or in severe decline, according to a Sept. 6 tree-removal list. Seven trees had "poor structure" and seven were "volunteer" trees that sprouted up beneath the canopy of another tree.

The largest tree has an 18-inch diameter, with a few in the 10- to 12-inch range. Most are in the 4- to 6-inch range, according to the report.

The largest visual impact would be around the baseball diamond in the park's center and the eastern path leading to the site, according to a proposed tree-removal map. Ten trees would be taken out adjacent to home plate and seven would be removed along the path. Another cluster of trees would be removed near the basketball courts.

Kenny said she hopes whatever replaces the trees will be big enough to have a fighting chance in the busy park. Along Loma Verde Avenue, replanted saplings that replaced mature trees were small and some did not survive, she said.

"The only word for it is twigs. They didn't come up to my knees," she said.

Sheri Furman, Midtown Residents Association chairwoman, agreed.

"It's always a concern about when you take a tree down because it takes so long for a tree to reach maturity. What's most concerning is that they were going to take them all out at once," she said.

The city's use of reclaimed water, which has high salinity, has been detrimental to the trees, Kenny said.

Public Works Director Mike Sartor said the city is working to reduce the salinity, but that the previous choice of tree species and soil type are also reasons the trees are in decline.

Sartor said he is aware of the sensitive nature of a mass removal.

"I believe all of the trees will come out at one time," he said, but added that strategy could change. Interim Public Works Arborist Eugene Segna thinks that a few of the trees are in danger of toppling and those trees would most likely be removed in the next few weeks, Sartor said.

He added that staff will present a draft replanting plan for residents to review and discuss at Tuesday's meeting. Staff members will then refine the plan. Planting would be scheduled for this winter.

The public works department has also made contact with Canopy, the Palo Alto nonprofit urban-forest organization, about the effort, he said.

Annette Glanckopf, the Midtown association's vice chair, said holding the public meeting is prudent, considering the number of trees to be removed at one time. She praised the city's willingness to work with the public on the sensitive tree issue.

"The city has been very responsive and has been willing to meet with us and to work with us," she said.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Friends Meeting Hall, 957 Colorado Ave., Palo Alto.

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Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 17, 2011 at 11:03 pm

Greer Park is not on Loma Verde Avenue!

Like this comment
Posted by AllergyRelief
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 18, 2011 at 9:56 am

Please, no more heavy pollen producing trees!

Like this comment
Posted by No More Tree Scandals!
a resident of another community
on Oct 18, 2011 at 10:30 am

Please, Palo Alto, no more Public Works scandals or kurfluffles about trees, OK?

Like this comment
Posted by Tree Minder
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 18, 2011 at 11:17 am

The problem with the trees in Greer Park is that whoever planted them planted them much to close together, they haven't got a hope of growing properly. Several of them have died, others are looking very sick.

If Midtown were smart they would have them all removed ASAP and get the City to replant more appropriate trees immediately under the supervision of the arborist.

Mitchell Park had some very inappropriate tree plantings some ten years ago. The instructions to the contractor who planted them were very confusing and they planted the new trees under existing trees. Anyway, they were all removed or replanted elsewhere in the park.

I think there needs to be better supervision of tree planting contractors. I don't put Greer Park's tree problems in the same catagory as California Avenue.

Like this comment
Posted by Gethin
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2011 at 11:39 am

Does anyone know how many trees are in Greer Park? If they take out 33 what will be left? I think Kenny asks a good question: how mature will the replacements be? If they are too young/small or just slow growing it will take a decade for them to reach a good size.

Like this comment
Posted by college terrace mom
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 18, 2011 at 11:51 am

Trees lining the park/tennis courts on Dartmouth St. were taken down. It took much longer than the city told us to replace the trees, and the overall feeling of the area is completely different. The park in the same area was closed for over a year for landscaping and to deal with the standing water issues. This continues to be a problem after the remodel, as the park continues to stand in water, inhibiting activity.

Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 18, 2011 at 12:13 pm

If you are thinking of saving those trees-give up all hope. Once Palo Alto decides to target and remove trees they will shop aborists until they get expert opinions that support removal...

Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2011 at 12:35 pm

I don't think the remarks here - or the article - reflect the history of this issue. Several years ago, big Eucalyptus trees along the Amarillo side of the park fell in a storm, completely flattening cars parked along the road.

It's good to see the City being proactive. I do not know if 33 trees is a correct number - and I suspect that no one here does either. Let's hope that the process has more careful consideration than past ones - and the City acts wisely.

Like this comment
Posted by Edward
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Oct 18, 2011 at 4:03 pm

Leave the "volunteers." They're volunteers because they found a place they liked and have thrived on their own. And what constitutes "poorly formed?" Its a tree for chrissakes.

Who pays for this? Who's to say a diseased tree can't get well? There are people in my family who are ill but I'm not gonna cut them down.

Is this a case of the arborists creating work for themselves?

Like this comment
Posted by Concerned Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 18, 2011 at 4:16 pm

The use of "recycled water" should be scrutinized before making a decision on which species to plant. On the East side of 101 in the Baylands, there are Eucalyptus trees and a few young Redwoods which appear to be thriving. I am not advocating planting these species, I am only mentioning this to point out that the use of recycled water is the key to choosing the correct species. I think the arborist will research which species will thrive in soils with high salinity, and possibly other chemical compounds in high concentration.
There are warning signs posted at the park about the use of this water. Isn't there a plan to pipe recycled water to Google and then up to the Stanford Research Park? If so, this issue at Greer Park should raise a number of red flags. The use of reclaimed water should be carefully studied or more trees than just those at Greer Park may be at risk in the future.

Like this comment
Posted by LuvTrees
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 18, 2011 at 6:18 pm

Fix the salinity FIRST before replanting trees, please.

Like this comment
Posted by bill g
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 18, 2011 at 6:28 pm

All those interested in this effort should go to Greer Park and view the trees in question. They either have a red mark or a sign on the ones slated for removal.

Although I'm not an arborist, it seemed obvious that most, if not all, were in poor shape. And hoping they'll get well if the environment doesn't change is wishful thinking - e.g. gotta lower water salinity.

The trees referred to along Loma Verde were used as an example of what happens when newly planted trees are not tended for some time after planting. Canopy has asked for volunteers to look after such trees. They may not have been too successful if those cited are an example.

Like this comment
Posted by Ada
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 19, 2011 at 12:07 am

Greer Park does not look like a park, more like a field. They should plant 10 times more trees than there are now. They should plant more big trees to shield the residential housing from the noise and pollution of 101.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2011 at 8:31 am

Ada, it all depends on your definition of park.

Greer Park is a great place for sports, not a great place for picnics though. Greer Park should be emphasized as a sports park and fully utilized as such. The trees should be where the spectators sit, the picnic areas should be after sports team hangouts, and the bathrooms large enough to use as changing facilities.

Other cities have great sports parks. We need a great sports place, Greer should be that.

Like this comment
Posted by Ada
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 20, 2011 at 5:18 pm

WE can certainly keep the soccer fields, no question about that, but it makes sense to plant more trees along the Bayshore Fwy to shield it from 101.

Like this comment
Posted by Tree Minder
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 20, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Ada says: "Greer Park does not look like a park, more like a field."
Ada, that's exactly what it is a sports field for baseball and soccer. However, the new area is supposed to be for picnics but I've yet to see any picnicing or partying going on in that area - it's too near H.101.

Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 20, 2011 at 8:52 pm

I use the new picnic area Greer Park at lunch time during the week. I often see others enjoying the use of the picnic tables as well. I'm disappointed the trees will be removed as I like the shade to do my pilates. I do understand though that Eucalyptus trees do not last very long in North America since the roots do not grow as deep as they do in Australia.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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