Since Naples was founded in the late 1800s, people have been attracted to the city because of its natural beauty, balmy weather, and potential. Not to mention it was most popular for hunting and fishing. According to historical literature about Naples, the name, “Naples” stuck because the bay was promoted and described in newspapers and magazines during those times as “surpassing the bay in Naples, Italy.”
Fast forward to the year 2014, much has changed and much has remained the same. You ask what? The city is now more developed and the population has increased and what remains the same is Naples’ beauty. One of the secrets to Naples’ natural beauty has always been its beautiful trees that line the streets in our neighborhoods.
Next time you are out and about, take time to visit the trees and behold the beauty they provide us, and their tranquility. Not only are trees pleasant to the eyes and good for the soul, they have many other benefits. According to Treepeople.org, trees, combat the greenhouse effect, provide habitat for wildlife, increase property value, provide oxygen, conserve energy, and cool the streets and the city, to name a few. Did you know? An acre of mature trees absorb the amount of carbon dioxide produced by a car after driving it for 26,000 miles.
The good news is the city has a progressive urban forestry program that strives to keep a balance of native species of trees and palms for diversity while not creating a mono-culture appearance. This strategy is one of many threads that makes Naples the crown jewel of Southwest Florida. This program emphasizes the critical role trees play in the infrastructure of our community. Naples’ urban forest consists of over 28,000 trees planted in the city’s landscape and another 100 trees planted annually as part of the tree fill-in/replacement program.
In addition, there are thousands more trees planted on private property. The Parks and Recreation Division manages this program which includes over 143 acres of parks and medians, among the city’s facilities. Apart of the urban forestry program, the division manages and regulates the removal, pruning, watering, fertilization, and insect and disease management of all trees as deemed appropriate within the city’s right-of-way.
One of the issues the city has been faced with is the infestation of whiteflies on some of the trees and other vegetation in the city. These flies leave behind a white waxy substance called honeydew which may affect the health of the vegetation. There are more than 75 different species of whiteflies in Florida as they are attracted to our warm tropical climate.
Many citizens have expressed concern about the whitefly infestation and the city is conducting research to determine the best way to solve this issue.
City Council has directed staff to prioritize species of trees that are affected by Ficus Whitefly and other species of whitefly. In addition, staff was asked to prioritize streets that would be treated for the pest and obtain cost estimates. This information will be presented to the Community Service Advisory Board (CSAB) for discussion and their recommendations will be presented to Council f o r a decision. The estimated cost may exceed $100,000 just for the city’s Ficus Trees, but protecting these assets is critical.
I would like to thank City Arborist Joe Boscaglia and Contract Services Manager Heather Shields of the Parks and Recreation Division for doing an outstanding job managing, building, and sustaining our Urban Forestry Program.
To recognize the commitment and support of the City’s residents toward developing and sustaining a vibrant and healthy Urban Forest, annually, the City honors Arbor Day with a tree planting ceremony and a proclamation dedicated by me as mayor.
The City is recognized by the National Arbor Day Foundation for achieving the designation as a Tree City USA for 16 consecutive years. Due to the continuing commitment in expanding the City’s Urban Forest, the City was also honored with the prestigious National Arbor Day Foundation Growth Award for the sixth consecutive year.
There are many ways to get involved with the Urban Forestry Program. Citizens can donate a tree from their property that has become too large to manage or a tree that is interfering with your renovation. All tree donations will receive a tax donation letter for the value of the tree. In addition, the city has a Living Memorial Program that provides citizens a meaningful and environmentally friendly way to honor the life of a loved one. The program gives the donor an opportunity to plant a young tree or selection of an existing species accompanied by a small bronze plaque at the base of the tree with the name of the loved one. Currently, there are more than 80 memorial trees at more than 20 different locations in the city, and more than 50 Diamond Jubilee trees in Cambier Park. These efforts are particularly important as the city embarks on the new park along the Gordon River. For more information, please contact Heather at 239.213.7136 or Joe at 239.213.7134239.213.7134. A special thanks to Tamika Seaton, Public Information Officer, City of Naples, for her contributions to this article.
Progress continues on the new park on the Gordon River and the conceptual plan is becoming final with a City Council meeting approval on March 5th. Please review the Park’s link on the city’s website at www.naplesgov.com.
Also mark the Gala date on your schedule for the evening of March 15th and Family Day on Sunday afternoon March 16th. The events will be held at the Park site located near Goodlette-Frank Road and Riverside Circle, adjacent to the Gordon River. If you are interested in an invitation, naming opportunities or have any questions, give me a call at 239.248.1550239.248.1550 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am very excited about this opportunity to reach so many people in the community and encourage each of you to become involved with your local government as you deem appropriate. All ideas, suggestions or comments are welcome; please contact me.