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Date of Issue: February 02, 2006

AME gains additional landscape funds

Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore says she has Manatee School District Superintendent Roger Dearing's word that Anna Maria Elementary School will receive an additional $6,000 for planting new trees on campus.

Whitmore spoke to the superintendent at the urging of the Holmes Beach Parks and Beautification Committee shortly after a large ficus tree adjacent to the school's auditorium was bulldozed. The committee wanted to be reassured that the school's new landscaping would adequately compensate for the mature trees that have been lost during the construction of the new school.

The school district announced its plans to remove the non-native ficus at a public meeting in October citing its intrusive root system, poor maintenance and, according to AME's arborist David Jones, the tree would need too much room to be preserved and it's not an appropriate species for the site to begin with.

Jane Dreger, school district construction services project manager, that Florida Department of Education building regulations state that a non-native species can not be planted or moved onsite without a special exception. A special exception had already been granted by the state allowing the school to keep another non-native ficus near the new playground on campus.

Margi Nanney, public relations representative for the school district, stated that a small group of individuals indicated an interest in saving the tree and offered to assist in moving the tree to a new location. Nanney said Dearing agreed to listen to the group's request and a meeting was held with members of AME's construction team and the district's staff attorney.

Nanney said it was estimated that it would cost $6,000 to relocate the tree, but with a tight demolition deadline to meet, any effort to relocate the tree would have needed to be carried out prior to the Jan. 2 demolition schedule.

The tree was bulldozed Dec. 29, and Dearing committed $6,000 - the estimated to cost to relocate the tree - toward AME's final landscape plans.