Earlier this week, Mayor Bob Buckhorn's communications officer, Ali Glisson, reported that 102 trees in Ybor were replaced and removed, costing $112,000 of the total $422,000 that was allocated for tree removal in Downtown Tampa and Ybor City.
When Parks & Rec. Director Greg Bayor went before the City Council Thursday morning to discuss Bayshore Boulevard landscaping, he appeared ready to hear about the incident.
For some people, such as Councilwoman Mary Mulhern, the tearing down of the trees was reminiscent of what former Mayor Pam Iorio did years ago with the Crepe Myrtle trees in Kiley Park.
"I'm not scolding you, because I don't hold you responsible for any of this," she told Bayor. "I hold the mayor responsible for making these really big decisions without any public input."
Mulhern also serves as the Parks & Rec. chair, and she said that like most of the merchants and residents of Ybor, she was stunned to see and hear about the trees.
"It's just not good government to not involve neighborhoods in our most significant areas of the city," she said. She added that proper notification of such a decision should happen in any part of Tampa.
Looking a bit sheepish, Bayor said he was, "very sensitive to getting more word out to the community," promising he'll do better in the future.
Bayor came to Tampa from the city of Baltimore earlier this year, replacing Karen Palus, whose controversial tenure ended last December when she stepped down, a resignation that was immediately embraced by the Buckhorn administration.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Seminole Heights activist Susan Long called the removal of trees, "appalling."
"With no warning, no input from anybody, just cut 'em all down," she said to the council. "We need shade down there, we need decent trees. I'm just expressing my dissatisfaction."