Palm Tree replacement.
By Brain Goff- Belleair Bee
Driving through Belleair on the town’s main street, Indian Rocks Road, people will notice new palm trees that have been planted near the roundabout. It is just the beginning of what will soon be a tree-lined road from end to end.
The trees came about because of an agreement between the town and the Belleair Community Foundation. The town agreed to match, dollar for dollar, whatever the BCF could raise toward the purchase and planting of the trees.
Foundation founder and town Commissioner Karla Rettstatt said the tree project was the second major effort by her group.
“We had a couple of board members who have been interested in replacing some of the trees on Indian Rocks Road for some time,” she said. “It didn’t seem to be a budgetary project for the town so we thought it would be a good smaller project for us since Hunter Memorial Park.”
The foundation was wholly responsible for the makeover of Hunter Park, including the name change to Hunter Memorial, and the establishment of a fountain honoring all branches of the military.
Rettstatt said the goal was to raise enough money to buy and plant 100 trees.
“We made our goal sooner than we thought,” she said. “It was a project that was widely received by the people in this community and many people gave enough money to buy two trees.”
So far 15 trees have been planted with the town looking for bids to finish the job.
Parks Supervisor Ricky Allison said the project was necessary.
“We have a mandate by ordinance that we have palm-lined streets,” he said. “Way back when the ordinance was passed it dictated that the main streets in town, Indian Rocks, Ponce, Rosary and Bayview all have the palm trees.”
Allison said over the years many of the trees just disappeared.
“Some were damaged in storms or being hit by vehicles, others were diseased. Every year we would lose some of the trees. Now we have to re-establish that ordinance.”
With 85 trees still to plant Allison said the plan is to have the job finished by the summer.
“We’ll be doing them in blocks of 25 to 30 palm trees at a time,” he said. “Most if not all the trees will be going onto Indian Rocks Road this time. We should have all 100 planted by this summer.”
Allison said the trees cost anywhere from $300 to $450 apiece. That, he said is modest for palm trees.
“Bigger palms can be in the thousands of dollars.”
Even though the Community Foundation has reached its goal and has passed the money over to the town, Rettstatt says the project isn’t dead.
“Even though we are ready to move onto something else the town will continue to take donations for trees and it will match any donations,” she said.
Rettstatt said she expects the tree project will continue to grow as people continue to donate and she is sure they will.
“People are very generous,” she said. “Very seldom do I meet people who don’t want to contribute on some level.”
The Community Foundation will now head toward another project aimed at improving life in Belleair. Rettstatt said the BCF is going to concentrate on improving two more parks in town.
“We decided to concentrate on two parks off Rosary Road,” she said. “Magnolia Park and Wall Park will be refurbished when infrastructure improvements are made along Rosary Road. We’ll get involved then.”
Rettstatt said she cannot stop helping to improve the community because it is where she lives and what she loves.
“I love Belleair, and I love the residents who live here,” she said. “It is more than just a community; it is like a family. It is a wonderful place to live.”