WPB Penny Wise-Pound Foolish

If you travel on Village Boulevard do you take the time to appreciate the landscape, the medium strip separating the 4 travel lanes with well trimmed Oak Trees, grass that is virtually free of weeds, the flowers planted at the entrance to “The Villages?” We have The Villages to thank for the upkeep from 45th.St to Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard.

Here’s the story:
There are 54 West Palm Beach Parks & Rec area’s which the city is responsible for it’s upkeep. While I have the upmost respect for city workers who maintain the 54 parks there are too many parks and not enough staff to maintain them all properly. They virtually run from one park to another trying to maintain the area.
While some parks receive extra attention others have grass cut along with the weeds, and a few, plain and simply, are a disgrace.

Recently removed from Village Boulevard were the Australian Pines, and here is the history of the tree according to Google.
“Australian Pines were introduced from Australia to Florida during the 1890s.

Appearance: This tropical evergreen tree grows up to 150 feet tall.

Habitat: Australian pine now occurs throughout South and Central Florida and because of its aggressive growth rate, never plant Australian pine trees. There are native trees that provide shade and do not harm the environment. Possession of Australian pine with the intent to sell or plant is illegal in Florida without a special permit. Australian pine trees tend to uproot and topple during high winds and pose a significant hazard to coastal storm evacuation routes.”

Many years ago the city planted the pine trees along Village where the needles on the ground were ankle deep, the rain washed the needles down to the storm drains where they overwhelmed the drains, and the outcome was severe flooding in the area.

The city spent $800,000.00 to remove the pines and plant palm trees with Coco Plum hedges in between and when the hedges are grown they will need to be maintained. While traveling Village I noticed a fern growing on the fence, and am familiar with this fern because my development has a problem with them growing on our Coco Plum. I brought a piece of the fern to the Mounts Botanical Garden where they identified it for me as the “Old World” climbing fern. Here’s the story on the fern:

Why the Old World climbing fern must be managed:
Highly invasive in natural areas.
Severe threat to Everglades tree island communities
A canopy producer that smothers native trees and shrubs.
Can serve as a fire ladder that carries fire into native tree canopies that normally wouldn’t burn.
The fern is rapidly spreading in South Florida’s public conservation lands.
About now you may be asking yourself why is she making an issue of the pines if they have been removed. The issue is not the pines, the issue is the vine.

While traveling Village I noticed the vine overtaking a fence that separates 95 from Village. I contacted Commissioner Neering who reported the vine to the city. Later that week I saw a couple of men pulling the vine from the fence. Well done Commissioner, and thank you.

Well damn the vine is making another appearance and will continue to do so until the root is removed and city workers continue to pull the vine off the fence, hedges and palm trees before they smoother $800,000.00 dollars worth of taxpayer dollars.

So what’s the solution?
The Villages have a contract with the city to maintain the medians on Village Boulevard and in my opinion it’s money well spent. Eight years ago the city decided they could save money by trimming the Australian Pines and that’s when it all went to hell. The city allowed the pines to get out of control with months of no trimming and then proceeds with “Hat Racking” known as Tree Abuse, by removing the top of the tree while ignoring the fast spreading vine. (WPB had code enforcement violate homeowners for “hat racking” in my development when homeowners were actually trimming trees back before the start of hurricane season)
The “city” should contact the Villages and sign a contract allowing them to maintain the new plantings and control the vine before $800,000.00 flows to the storm drains. penny wise, pound foolish, if they don’t/wont.