The Midtown Residents Association organized the meeting with city staff to calm fears of another tree-cutting "debacle" such as the removal of 63 trees in one day that occurred on California Avenue in 2009, leaders said.
Greer Park has 313 mature trees and 74 trees that were planted in 2010, according to Peter Jensen, a city landscape architect and certified arborist.
Irrigation with reclaimed water for the past 15 years and the underlying baylands soils have contributed to the demise of at least 24 trees, and others are in peril, he said.
"The park is a microclimate in itself. ... The topsoil there is not deep. The stuff underneath is salt marsh," he said.
Jensen said the Public Works arborists are selecting species of trees that are already thriving in the park despite the water and soil conditions. Most will take about 8 to 10 years to become large trees, he said.
Residents can view the trees proposed for removal by visiting the park, where each tree is tagged. Public Works also has a map of the tree plan and a list of trees planned for removal and their condition on its website at www.cityofpaloalto.org. Click on Public Works, then "tree removal" and scroll to the bottom.
The city plans to add trees that offer a variety of color, shape and texture to the park. The new species would include Pyrus, or Eastern pear, which is covered with white flowers in spring; London plane; Shamel or evergreen ash; Tristania or water gum; Nichol's gum and Swamp mallee, which has reddish or russet foliage.
The largest tree to be removed 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 a public works report.
The greatest visual impact would be around the baseball diamond in the park's center and an eastern path, according to the city. 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.
The species to be planted at the baseball field — Shamel ash and smaller water gum — will provide shade for visitors who come to watch the games.
Jensen said the trees will be removed in the coming weeks and the city will replant by the end of the year.
The 20 residents who attended the meeting said they are satisfied with the tree choices, but expressed concerns about the process.
Resident Pam Radin said staff had plans for elevation, irrigation, a budget, plant size and other prepared materials for previous projects, such as at Sterling Canal, that "are not in place now."
Others expressed worry that the city would not have enough money to implement the replanting, adding that they don't want to wait for a long time before the trees are replaced.
Jensen said the estimated project cost would be about $5,000 to $10,000. Eugene Segna, interim public-works managing arborist, assured residents that funding in the city budget is available.
Some residents said tree replacement is not enough, however, and that they want more trees added to the park.
"What is a city park without trees?" Ed Aguilar said, noting the wide expanses of grass that are used as regional playing fields.
"We could come back with an alternate plan to enhance this one" at a later date, Senior Public Works Engineer Elizabeth Ames said.