“They are gorgeous,” said David Larson as he watched a crane carefully lower one of the 50-foot palms into position. “They really dress the whole street up and make it look classy.”
The trees are between 40 and 60 years old, city officials said, and weigh about 5 tons each. They cost $16,000 apiece, half of which pays for shipping, site preparation, irrigation and installation.
A total of 113 new trees, including the palms, have been installed as part of the downtown streetscape project (not including the trees to be included in the new City Park layout now under construction). The other street trees include crepe myrtle, allee elm, red maple, ginkgo and others. The entire tree order for the streetscape project comes to $169,000.
Mayor Bob Taylor said the trees received a lot of comments during Saturday’s Farmers’ Market, the overwhelming majority of which were complimentary.
“People are stunned at how beautiful they look,” he said.
Although the palm is not native to East County, it has historical roots here. One of the major sources for the new civic center design was the former Brentwood Hotel, which photos show included palm trees. The choice of the low-maintenance palms was made by the City Council in 2008 following a series of public hearings on the design elements of the civic center and streetscape projects.