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State to help make park, roadway green

Neighbors in the Grandview Park and Snell Isle areas will soon be seeing trees where there once were none thanks to a nearly $20,000 Small Business Tree Planting Grant.

More than 100 trees will be planted in Grandview Park, at Sixth Street S and 39th Avenue, and in the publicly owned rights of way along Snell Isle Boulevard.

The matching grant from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services was awarded to the city Planning Department and the Parks Department after officials submitted applications last spring, said Julie Weston, city urban forester.

Applicants must be able to match at least 45 percent of the money they are requesting, Weston said. The Planning Department was able to match a higher amount, she said.

The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division selected the projects based on criteria such as the use of small businesses in the purchase and planting; the amount the applicants would match; the environmental benefit of the project; local community support; and the applicant's agreement to maintain the project for three years, Weston said.

The grant limit was $20,000 to one applicant, Weston said. The Planning and Parks departments apparently were grouped as one applicant _ perhaps because they both are city departments, she said.

The $7,240 that parks received will be used to purchase about 25 18-foot sabal palm trees and 18 oak trees, between 14 feet and 16 feet tall, which will be planted in Grandview Park, said Cliff Footlick, parks operation manager. The city recently purchased a half-acre from Boley Manor to extend the park along the waterfront between 32nd and 39th avenues S.

"We'd like to do some improvement and took advantage of the opportunity to get some grant money," Footlick said. "This is waterfront park land. It's very beautiful. It's an area we want to enhance as much as we can."

Matching funds provided by the Parks Department budget will pay for the removal of exotic plants from the park, the expansion of the irrigation system and the removal of an old fence, Footlick said. Parks Department money also will pay for the upkeep of the trees.

The more than $12,000 the Planning Department was awarded for its Snell Isle project will be used to pay for about 100 small palm trees and their planting along Snell Isle Boulevard from the Snell Isle Bridge to Sunset Country Club.

The Planning Department initially requested $12,760 for its project, but the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services would not pay for the purchase of hibiscus shrubs, Weston said. Hibiscus is not native to Florida, she said.

The Snell Isle Property Owners Association has had several beautification projects through the years, said Tim Bryant, the association's past president. Eric Lindstrom, an architect whose father lives in the neighborhood, has drawn several landscaping proposals, Bryant said. Weston viewed the plans and decided to submit the Snell Isle public rights of way beautification project.

"We are really confident this will be a good project because this is something (the residents) requested," Weston said. "They created it.

"It's surprising but there aren't that many places where people will come together as a neighborhood and say, "Yes. We want these trees planted here,'

" he added.

Work on the projects will begin as soon as the departments receive final authorization from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Weston said. Any work done before the final authorization was received would not be reimbursed, she said.