News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


PRESS RELEASE 07/08/2014
Subject :

City to Remove and Replace 12 Trees From Magical Bridge Playground Site
Contact : Peter Jensen, Landscape Architect, Public Works Department    (650) 617-3183
Palo Alto, CA—As part of the first phase of the Magical Bridge Playground Project located in Mitchell Park, 18 existing trees will be protected in place and 12 trees will be removed.  The project will replace the removed trees with five 84-inch box Quercus lobata, commonly known as valley oak, at approximately 22- to 28-feet tall, and seven 36-inch box Cercis 'Forest Pansy' trees.  The five specified Quercus lobata trees are locally native trees and were selected for their grand mature size, long life span and their ability to adapt to local climate conditions.

"The playground plan calls for protecting and integrating many of the park’s Cork Oak trees and other mature trees into the design of the playground area for natural shade," said Gregory Betts, Director of the City’s Community Services Department.  “The decision to remove the majority of the 12 trees was based on health and structural condition of those particular trees with large limbs having the potential to break and drop onto the playground.  With the proposed tree removal and replanting, the safety of the playground is improved.”

The City hired horticulture consultant agency HortScience to assess all of the trees around the project site.  Each tree was rated for suitability for preservation based upon its age, health, structural condition, and ability to safely coexist within a developed environment.  At the recommendation of HortScience, five Italian Stone Pine trees, five Eucalyptus Blue Gum trees, one Raywood Ash, and one Holly Oak were identified for removal.  The removal is scheduled for the week of July 14.

Of the trees being removed, none are native to the Palo Alto area.  The five Stone Pines, and three of the five eucalyptus trees, will be removed due to structural defects.  These trees are planned for removal to reduce the chance of injury at the playground.  One of the eucalyptus trees will be removed due to its proximity to the new tot-lot playground.  The fifth eucalyptus is being removed at the request of the Palo Alto Bike Advisory Committee and input from the community to eliminate a blind curve on the current bike/pedestrian pathway leading into the park.  The Raywood Ash is being removed due to its close proximity to a larger more mature Evergreen Ash to allow the Evergreen the proper space to grow, and the Holly Oak is in extremely poor and declining condition.  Additionally, five windmill palm trees will be transplanted to a location within the park.

The Magical Bridge Playground at the Mitchell Park site was considered in 2011 as a partnership project between the City and the local non-profit group the Friends of the Magical Bridge.  The Friends have raised the entire amount of the funds with community support and broke ground on the fully inclusive playground on June 23, 2014. The City hosted three community meetings to discuss the design, tree removal and other features, as well as presented twice to the Parks and Recreation Commission and once to the Architectural Review Board.  On May 19, 2014, Council approved a Park Improvement Ordinance to construct the playground with the expectation to complete construction this November.

For more information on the project, click here.