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Old May 17th, 2009, 12:32 AM
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Default Nobody's buying its palm trees

By Andrew Ba Tran | South Florida Sun Sentinel
4:42 PM EDT, April 22, 2009

SOUTHWEST RANCHES - The town's novel plan to help pay for a promised park didn't quite take root.

When officials in 2002 bought 16 acres on Griffin Road between 189th and 190th avenues, the site came with a vast expanse of palm trees.

"We were hoping to make our money back by selling off the trees," interim Town Administrator Bert Wrains said.

But the downturn in the economy has fewer people doing large landscaping projects and the town nursery hasn't sold a tree for months. The 140 private nurseries in the town are struggling as well.

Now, officials are facing a 2010 deadline to clear the land for what is tentatively being called Fishing Hole Park, with a 1-acre-wide pond. About 400 trees will be relocated to nearby parks. The remaining 3,000 or so trees, each worth $100 to $500, will be given away to residents.

"It came out of their taxes to buy them, so we want to see if we can return some of that,'' said Wrains, explaining there would be a limit on the number of trees a person could take home. "I don't want people starting a nursery off the good of the people, but we do want the taxpayers, the homeowners, to increase their landscaping."

The town in May is planning to invite residents to the property for two or three weekends to dig up the trees and load them onto their vehicles or arrange for them to be picked up and delivered.

Wrains said he did not think the free trees would undercut business for nearby nurseries.

"We're not hurting anyone because nobody's buying right now. Trees here go to commercial development, but it's stopped. Nobody's doing it, so this is a good time for us to move it out of the way," he said.

Gus De La Flor, 59, of Southwest Ranches and owner of De La Flor nursery, agreed.

"I'm kind of glad about it because that will add more business for us," he said. "The bigger trees won't be able to be moved by homeowners, so they're going to need a landscaper to help them with that."

De La Flor has noticed a big dip in business lately. Buyers are asking for smaller projects and even wedding planners are scaling back.

But waiting for the economy to improve isn't the worst thing that can happen to a plant.

"They keep growing and then you charge more when they've moved to the bigger pot," he said.

Edgar Amezquita, 44, of Davie, has owned the Perfect Choice Nursery in Southwest Ranches for eight years. April is usually his best month but, since the previous summer, Amezquita has seen sales drop by almost half.

"We work double for the same price, pretty much," he said.

De La Flor said he has used the downturn as an opportunity for strategic growth.

"They say if you build it, they will come, but they're not coming," he said, stretching his arms out in his recently constructed nursery wing extension. "Well, not enough anyway."

Read more at SunSentinel
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Old May 21st, 2009, 01:11 PM
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Default Thats terrible!

hopefully Obama can change some of that. I wonder if Barrack ever liked palm trees. He's family is from middle eastern descendents so maybe they do like palm trees... I am going to send him one from my little collection and see what happens.
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