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    New trees to sprout near old stumps

    A new policy aims to put replacements near the spot where old trees died in Tarpon Springs' historic district.


    © St. Petersburg Times, published September 30, 2000

    TARPON SPRINGS -- The four old oak trees lining Pineapple Street are dead, their bark the color of moldy bread.

    Soon they will be cut down, but after the last ball of moss hits the ground, the city of Tarpon Springs plans to plant young trees as close to the stumps as possible.

    And that's something new.

    Tarpon Springs City Manager Ellen Posivach has asked public services director John Cruz to establish a policy ensuring that for each tree removed in the city's historic district, as well as the nearby area that residents call the "fruit streets," another one is planted on or near the original spot.

    "We're going to do everything we can to replace trees in the exact same place or nearby whenever feasible," Cruz said.

    Now, each time the city removes a tree another one is planted, but not necessarily in the same place.

    Still, "as far as replacing the trees one-for-one, we're ahead of the game," Cruz said, adding that 100 trees are on order and soon will be planted around the city.

    The policy change can't come too soon for Tarpon Springs resident Nancy Dively. Earlier this week, she pointed to a stump in Craig Park, which surrounds picturesque Spring Bayou. The park is filled with oaks -- most alive, at least one dead -- and palms in need of a trim.

    One day about three months ago, Dively and her dogs, Ajax and Annie, were walking in the park when she saw that city workers had surrounded the huge tree.

    They had tied its limbs down with ropes and were cutting it. When they were through, the tree fell gently into the water, and they hauled it out and away. Now there is a grass-level stump -- and no replacement oak in sight.

    Some residents think that the city cut down the tree in Craig Park while it was still alive; city officials say they did not.

    Ben Gray, who owns a house on Pineapple Street, calls such stumps "open wounds."

    When he has his own oaks trimmed, he uses a black pruning paint to seal the cuts and block insects from boring into the trunks.

    Sweating and dirty from a day of working on his house, he looked across the street at two dead oaks, one with ivy crawling up the side of the trunk and a palm tree growing seemingly from inside it.

    "They're marginal. They're stressed, and then it's like, oh well, I'm done," he said. "They have lives like everyone else."

    Gray won't park his truck on the street near the dead trees because "they will come down."

    He said he thinks it's a good idea for the city to replace the trees it cuts down. His side of the block on Pineapple Street already is pretty bare.

    Cruz said he soon will organize a committee and invite members of the Tarpon Springs Historical Society and concerned citizens to join. Dively said she's glad the city plans to become involved.

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