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Parks and Rec Commission Will Consider Heritage Tree

By JB Davis –     

The city’s Parks, Recreation and Cemetery Commission is poised to recommend granting Heritage Tree status to a coastal live oak in the southwest quadrant of City Park.

The commission will meet at 6:30 p.m. tonight in the Commission Room in BeniciaCity Hall, 250 East L St.

The commission is also scheduled to hear an update on the Benicia Community Center project.  The community center is the old Mills Elementary School.  The money to pay for remodeling the former school site is coming out of the city’s 20 percent reserve and will be paid back with two payments of $1 million each from the Valero – Good Neighbor Steering Committee settlement.  The first payment will come next fiscal year and the second during the 2012 – 2013 fiscal year.

The update will include reports on completed elements, change orders, construction remaining and landscaping plans.

The commission also is being asked to appoint two of its members to serve on the Bicycle Rack task force. It will choose new bicycle racks as well as locations for the racks in the historic downtown.

The tree in City Park was nominated for heritage status by the Benicia Tree Foundation.  The application notes the tree’s scientific name, Quercus Agrifolia and its common name, coast live oak.

As noted in the staff report, the city’s Tree and Street Trees Ordinance allows trees to be nominated as Heritage Trees and provides seven criteria, one of which must be met in order for the nomination to be approved.

This tree met all seven criteria, according to the application from the Benicia Tree Foundation. That finding was confirmed by a report submitted by the city arborist, Theron Jones.

The report said: “The age and location of this tree create historical significance.  The shear size and graceful elegance make this a beautiful specimen tree and an ideal candidate for a Heritage Tree.”