City council halts Ybor tree project - FOX 13 News

City council halts Ybor tree project

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

Residents and business owners in Ybor City were shocked last week when they saw more than 100 trees had been cut down, all within a few hours.

It turned out to be part of a beautification project for the RNC. Downtown Tampa was finished but Ybor City never was. So after the RNC, the decision was made to level all the trees.

Some of the trees were diseased, others were interfering with power lines or buildings, and other were tearing up sidewalks.

But Tampa City Council members say they didn't know anything about it until it showed up on the news.

Now the project is on hold.

Orange cones sit on top of plywood where the stumps used to be. The Parks Department says they plan to meet with the Barrio Latino Commission. They are in charge of preserving the history of Ybor City.

The question is, what did that commission know about the project, and who was supposed to talk to the neighborhood about it?

There was also a question about why all of the 102 trees had to be removed. From a survey, it listed some of the trees as fair or good.

Parks Director Greg Bayor said he didn't have information on how many trees could have been saved.

Councilwoman Lisa Montelione said a better approach would have been to allow older trees to flourish and new trees to be put in. She said it would have added to the charm of Ybor City.

"I think going through and selectively removing the trees and not doing it all at one time would have been a much better option. Yes, it would have been a little more expensive, but we would have spread the cost out over time. Sometimes you have to look at what the benefits are over the costs," Montelione said.

So now, the city will meet with the Barrio Latino Commission on October 16th to discuss the project, and to discuss if olive trees and crepe myrtles are the right trees to plant.

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