Florida Keys News
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Children's park to reopen soon
Tree removal eliminated shade canopy at beach park

Monroe County workers removed the last of the old Australian pines from the Higgs Beach children's park on Monday, and the park could reopen as soon as this weekend.

The park has been closed for more than a month after a 75-pound branch broke and fell, brushing a small child who was playing underneath.

An arborist ruled that none of the 12 pines could be saved and all should be removed, according to Kevin Wilson, who oversees the county's Project Management Department.

Removing the trees was time consuming, as cutting the branches and trunks was like cutting through iron, and workers went through numerous saw blades, Public Works Director Dent Pierce said.

"A thick watery black goo oozed out of some of the pines that workers cut into," Pierce said.

The county will grind up the stumps as much as possible and then cover them with sand, Pierce said. The work should be completed by this weekend, Pierce said.

The park will be without shade for some time as the county is still working on its plans to place shading and trees in the small beach-front park, Wilson said.

County officials are considering placing 14- to 16-foot "nursery stock" buttonwood and sea grape trees around the perimeter of the park, and putting some kind of artificial shade structure above the park until the trees grow big enough to provide shade, Wilson said.

County workers are working with local architect Bill Horn to make sure the new trees and shades gel with the park's master plan, which the county has been developing for the past several years. Horn has been the architect on the master plan project.

tohara@keysnews.com

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