Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Library Must Clear Old Trees

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Library Must Clear Old Trees

Article excerpt

ORANGE PARK -- Clay County's foliage-shaded public library in Orange Park, surrounded by 71 towering trees, soon will get more exposure to the sun.

And with hurricane season right around the corner, the sooner the better, according to a state forester who says many of the trees are diseased and should be removed before storm winds begin blowing.

"I am recommending the removal of 19 of these trees due to their poor condition or because their removal would benefit more desirable trees," said Robert W. Ray in a recent letter to Arnold Weeks, county library director.

Weeks said most of the trees might not have to be taken down right away, but four close to the building on Plainfield Avenue are in such sickly condition that they need to be removed immediately.

One oak tree on the southern edge of the library property in the employee parking area is completely rotten at the bottom and potentially hazardous, Weeks said.

Pat Coffman, director of the Orange Park branch, said so many trees are on the nearly 3-acre site that the removal of 19 will hardly be noticed.

"We're really saddened that we have to remove any trees," Coffman said. "But over 50 trees will be left scattered all over the property. We intend it to stay very attractive."

The original 8,000-square-foot library was built in 1975 on land donated by the Orange Park Town Council. The County Commission later bought an adjacent 2-acre parcel and built the current 28,000-square-foot structure in 1992 along Dudley Branch, which flows near a shaded picnic area at the rear of the library.

The trees will be taken out gradually, beginning with the weakest.

"The dangerous ones we want to take down first," Coffman said. "Those will be in our phase one."

Ray, the Florida Division of Forestry's area forester in Clay County, also suggested nine other trees could be removed from the property because they are "suppressed or poorly formed individuals which grew among trees which have been recommended for removal and they now add little value to the urban environment. …

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