Two phoenix palm trees are to be removed as part of the planned programme of improvements for Mahara Place in Waikanae. Concepts for the new design and layout are on display from Thursday this week at the Waikanae Library.
Acting Group Manager Infrastructure Services Martyn Cole says the difficult decision comes after discussion with a tree arborist, designers, the Waikanae Community Board and the Mahara Place Development Committee (made up of community and business representatives).
“It’s never an easy decision to remove trees, and we’ve taken a range of factors into account,” Mr Cole says.
“Those factors include the trees’ suitability to the space we are creating, their long-term health, their ability to withstand construction work, people’s health and safety, and the aesthetic value of the trees.
“The trees will be removed and replaced with new planting that’s better suited to the new and more open design of the space. This will help create a welcoming, well-connected and inclusive space, where people can relax, socialise, sit and take shelter.
A tree condition report has been done by a qualified arborist showing the trees are likely to become unstable in the future, even if they survive construction around them.
Mr Cole says the report indicates that while the trees are healthy now, they have very large root systems and because of the surrounding environment, they have limited ability to grow more roots. In time, the roots are likely to stop growing and won’t be able to fully support the trees, increasing the risk of them falling over.
“The existing trees also have spiky fronds that can injure people and are better suited to areas where people don’t gather to sit and use them as shelter.”
Mr Cole said precautions would be taken to protect other plantings and suitable seating would continue to be provided as construction begins.
“We understand any tree removal is a sensitive topic, and we’re mindful that some people in the community will have been around when the palms were planted.”
He encourages anyone who has questions or concerns to touch base with the project team to discuss the reasons for removal further. The team will be at the Mahara Place info days at Waikanae Library this Thursday (4-6pm) and Saturday (10am-12pm) to talk through the whole improvements programme and answer questions.
- The cost of removal will be around $10,000.
- The possibility of relocating the trees was explored, but this would’ve come at a cost of more than $100,000, and it wouldn’t be guaranteed that they’d survive.
- The trees will be removed ahead of construction of the new plaza for Mahara Place planned to begin early next year.
- An exact date for the removal hasn’t been confirmed yet, but it is likely to be in late November 2018.
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