Dominion Energy will begin removing 29 palm trees April 12 in the Historic District. These palm trees are touching electrical wires and pose a threat to safety and uninterrupted power.
Town leaders and staff are discussing future projects in the Historic District in which most of these trees will be replaced.
“It is an unfortunate reality that these trees have to be removed,” Deputy Town Manager Scott Marshall said. “They were planted in the 1930s as a memorial to fallen World War I soldiers, so removing them really was a last resort.
“Dominion Energy representatives have made it clear these trees are a safety hazards to everyone near them as well as Dominion employees who work on the lines.”
Marshall said the Town’s Strategic Plan already includes the Calhoun Street Streetscape project, which will include the burial of overhead power lines. When the lines are buried, this will solve this issue. Landscaping features in this project will incorporate new palm trees which will pay homage to the original intent and symbolism of the trees that are being removed. This project will be designed in fiscal year 2022 with construction to follow in 2023 or 2024. In the meantime, the Town will replant a few smaller palms along Calhoun Street to maintain basic landscaping features of the street.
Marshall said town staff researched the possibility of relocating the trees. However, the project would cost more than $25,000 with no guarantee the trees would survive.
“We found that most palm species have a lifespan of 70-100 years, so these trees are at the end of their life cycle,” Marshall said. “Arborists have advised us that, given their age and condition, these trees are too fragile to be viable for transplantation.”
Employees of Dominion Energy and the Town will speak with every property owner which this project affects to ensure they are informed of the process. Most of the trees are in Dominion Energy’s rights-of-way. The Town will also keep the public informed about this project through its social media platforms. The project is expected to last about a week, depending on weather and other variables.