Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco cuts down $129,000 worth of trees in medians along U.S. 41

Pasco County Public Works cut down $129,000 worth of trees in the medians on U.S. 41 near State Road 54 in Land O’Lakes.


Pasco County Public Works cut down $129,000 worth of trees in the medians on U.S. 41 near State Road 54 in Land O’Lakes.

LAND O'LAKES — At least twice a day Douglas McDowell enjoyed driving along the tree-lined portion of U.S. 41 near State Road 54.

The 30-year Pasco resident likened the experience to driving in France or Italy.

Well, his European excursion is over.

Last week Pasco County Public Works crews chopped down live oaks and crape myrtle trees that were planted 10 years ago when the road was expanded. The trees cost $129,000 at the time.

"It's just really poor timing with all the talk about climate control, and to cut down trees is almost unpatriotic," said McDowell, 66. "And it's certainly ugly."

The Florida Department of Transportation routinely makes agreements with cities and counties to maintain median trees after the state completes road work. But according to DOT officials, Pasco County recently declined to keep the trees because of the budget needed to maintain them.

DOT spokeswoman Kris Carson said the county planned to "salvage" the 45 live oaks and 20 crape myrtle trees.

"We are glad the county is going to find a new home" for those trees, Carson said. "We have been told that they are going to plant them elsewhere."

Bipin Parikh, Pasco's assistant county administrator, said some of the trees were removed to plant elsewhere. Others were left alone.

"I think they started taking the trees down," Parikh said. "People were upset and we said let's just not remove any tree."

Parikh said the cost to maintain the trees is $9,600 a year and that the county has maintained those medians and others along U.S. 41 for years.

"We have some agreement, they wanted us to renew for the maintenance forever and the county was not willing to do that," Parikh said.

He said DOT officials told the county to remove the trees or they would.

Erick Smith, an urban forestry expert at the University of Florida, said it is labor intensive to remove decade-old trees and then care for them to become established in another area.

"The fact that they were 10 years old is really unfortunate," he said. "That first seven years is the hardest time to make it. By the time they are 10 years old they are established."

Smith also said trees in medians are important for aesthetic appeal to break up the roadway and also to shade the asphalt and improve air quality.

He said trees that old would need to be trimmed every three to five years.

"In the big scheme of things they are totally going against where everybody else is going," Smith said. "People all across Florida are planting trees in medians and doing their best to not cut them down. So the fact that these folks are saying that they can't maintain them, that just seems really unfortunate."

The removal just does not make sense to some.

"There's just no justification, let's face it," McDowell said. "And I'm sorry they were so efficient in doing it. It was quite an investment in time, and we've lost that."

Pasco cuts down $129,000 worth of trees in medians along U.S. 41 10/22/10 [Last modified: Friday, October 22, 2010 8:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Kidpreneurs — and adults — capitalize on gooey, squishy Slime craze


    First it was Play-Doh. Then Gak. There have been dozens of variations for sale of the oozy, gooey, squishable, stretchable kids' toy through the generations.

    Aletheia Venator and Berlyn Perdomo demonstrate the stretchiness of their slime. - Berlyn Perdomo and her friend, Aletheia Venator, both 13, make and sell slime which can be seen on their instagram site @the.real.slimeshadyy [JIM DAMASKE   |   Times]
  2. After last year's drug-related deaths, Tampa's Sunset Music Festival says it's stepping up safety, security

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Alex Haynes worked three jobs. He had a fiance and an infant son. He owned his own home in Melbourne. Last summer, the 22-year-old attended the Sunset Musical Festival at Raymond James Stadium.

    He left in an ambulance.

    Last year’s Sunset Music Festival was marked by dozens of medical emergencies.
  3. What you need to know for Friday, May 26


    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Read this morning why Florida's most prized sweet corn is nearly extinct. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. The last farmer of Florida's prized Zellwood corn is thinking of packing it in


    MOUNT DORA — Hank Scott steps out of his pickup between the long rows and snaps off an ear that grows about bellybutton-high on the forehead-high stalks.

    Hank Scott, co-owner of Long and Scott Farms, shucks an ear of corn on the farm in Mount Dora, Fla., on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. The farm specializes in Scott's Zellwood Triple-Sweet Gourmet Corn. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  5. Trump's rock-solid support shows in Pennsylvania: 'Why can't we be friends with Russia'


    HAZLETON, Pa. — To many here, the fires in Washington are distant and unimportant, a confusing jangle of news about Russia whipped up by forces set on ruining President Donald Trump.

    A street in downtown Hazleton, Pa. (Alex Leary  |  Times)