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Old Towne Pines to Bow to Palm Trees

July 18, 1998|LESLEY WRIGHT and JOHN POPE

Their supporters fought bitterly for them, but the majestic pines that have lined Old Towne plaza for 30 years will be replaced with palm trees under a renovation plan approved recently by the City Council.

The $500,000 plan, conceived over seven years, aims to restore the plaza around the traffic circle to more accurately reflect its 1880s origins.

Along with removing the 16 Canary Island pine trees, designers have proposed ripping up brick sidewalks, planters and benches added during a renovation in the 1970s.

The plan also calls for removing a traffic lane from the circle and extending the walkway to allow for outdoor cafes. Elaborate lighting fixtures suited to the earlier era will be added around the mile-square historic district, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A group of about 50 residents protested the demise of the pines and the council reconsidered the issue after approving the plan in April.

The final vote was 3-1 to remove the pine trees. Councilman Mike Alvarez abstained from voting the second time because he owns property in the area.

City officials said they will work on plans to move the pines instead of destroying them.

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