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Jacksonville, FL (January 31, 2020) – Over the years as District 11 has grown, many of the public rights-of-way were setup to be managed by private entities wanting to forego the usual city maintenance, looking to create an enhanced environment that would be appealing to their new developments and the surrounding community. Unfortunately, over time, the enthusiasm for such upkeeps diminished.

This was true for a section of roadway on Baymeadows Road East of I-295. The section of roadway beginning at the FDOT boundary going east towards Fort Family Park was part of an agreement between the City of Jacksonville and a private organization called Baymeadows Road East Owners Association (BREOA). This private entity approached the city in 2018 desiring to be dissolved, therefore, to that end, the city required the area in question to be clean-up and all dead plants removed prior to accepting for maintenance, this future obligation.

Now that the transition to city maintenance has occurred, it was Council Member Becton’s desire to help in the improvement of this area by working with the city’s Landscape Division to see what could be done to revive and enhance what had deteriorated. Back in December of 2018, Council Member Becton along with Dave McDaniel, Chief of the Landscape Division, made a field trip to the area to scope out a plan of attacked. This involved looking at current planting, and what would successfully grow in areas that lacked water and would require low maintenance.

Over the past year, the plan was developed and funding was needed along with the approval of the COJ Tree Commission for such an under taking. It was Ordinance 2019-089-E that setup a $1 million dollar fund through the city’s well-funded Tree Trust Fund that got this project underway. The Tree Trust Fund, estimated to have a balance of over $20 million dollars in 2019, is funded through development when a tree of a certain size is removed.

“The City of Jacksonville has over $20 million dollars in a tree fund in which all Council members are working to utilize,” said Councilman Becton. “The fund can only be used for trees and not smaller landscaping, plus it is actually challenging to find space to plant trees around the city because of so many guidelines and regulations. For State Roads, they prohibit plantings where you might want them and depending on the speed of travel on those roads, the rules become even more stringent. Unfortunately, many of the roads within District 11 are state roads, therefore under State maintenance, limiting our options.”.

The Tree Trust Fund has three levels of funding that have been established to help in opening up additional opportunities to plant trees and reduce the buildup of excess funds in the Trust Fund. Those levels are 1) Level 1 which allows the city to plant trees within publicly maintained streets rights-of-ways when a property owner requests the installation of trees adjacent to their property, 2) Level 2 which provides for an individual citizen or organization with the opportunity to suggest a location for tree plantings on public property limited to 200 and 3) Level 3 which provides for grants to be awarded to local community and not-for-profit organizations for the design, management and implementation of tree plantings projects on publicly owned land within the County for the conservation and enhancement of the City of Jacksonville’s tree canopy.

Along with the Baymeadows East landscape opportunity, Council Member Becton also took the opportunity to look at other areas within the District that might qualify for enhanced tree planning. Those areas ultimately included Point Meadows Drive along the western side of the sound wall and Fort Family Park.

Councilman Becton and the Chief of Landscaping, Dave McDaniel and his staff have had several field trips to this area to plan out the projects and it was the Level 2 program in which they used to get approved in December of 2019 to move forward.

“I am excited that within District 11 we have finally found areas of the district that have opportunities for planting trees,” Council Member Becton expressed. “We utilized organizations within the area to leverage our ability to act under the Level 2 program and get funding. Now it became a waiting game on the right planting time of year to act which we targeted Spring of 2020.”

According to the Project Scope, the implementation is for about 119 trees to be planted in medians and right of ways along Baymeadows East, R.G Skinner Parkway, Sweetwater Parkway, Fort Family Regional Park, and lastly Point Meadows Dr. The project cost was approximately $284,900 with Davey Tree Company. This price is based on the Countywide Tree Planting Contract’s that includes a 1-year warranty for all plantings. Adjustments will be made as needed, but the landscaping division does not expect there to be many since a majority of the trees incorporated in the landscaping plans are new and will replace previous landscaping.

The tree planting projects encompass the following variety of trees: 1) Baymeadows East – Live Oaks, East Palatka Holly, Muskogee Std, Longleaf Pine, Southern Magnolia, 2) Point Meadows Sound Wall Buffer – Cabbage Palm, Southern Red Cedar and Long Leaf Pines and 3) Fort Family Regional Park – Live Oak, Sycamore, Red Maple, and Washington Palm.

As of April, of this year, the landscaping division has confirmed that the District 11 Tree Planting is almost ready for final inspection and should be officially completed within the coming weeks.

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