Anna Maria homeowner Shawn Kaleta, who recently purchased the Moss home on the beachfront at Willow Avenue in Anna Maria, said he doesn’t mind having Australian pines in front of his property in the city-owned Gulf Park.
When the city recently announced plans to remove six or seven Australian pines in the park in the next few years, several people protested and said the pines should remain because of the shade they provide and their beauty.
Kaleta, however, said as long as his home is safe from the pines, he likes seeing them.
“I like them there. The shade is nice,” he said.
Contrary to some reports, Kaleta is not behind the effort to remove the pines from Gulf Park.
“It’s not my property. I told George (McKay) I’m fine either way with what the city does. I just want to make sure my home is safe, but the final decision is up to the city,” he said.
Kaleta indicated he has concerns with tall branches from the pines that could splinter and fall on his house during a storm event, but added that trimming might be a better solution.
He said he wants to maintain whatever shade canopy is possible from the pines. At the same time, Kaleta wants to maintain for his family the character of the 1920s-built home that was occupied by the late Gene and Elizabeth Moss for many years.
Kaleta said he bought the Moss home as his permanent residence and will abide by any city decision on the removal or retention of the pines.
Anna Maria officials have given public works director George McKay the go-ahead to remove six or seven Australian pines in the area between the beach accesses for Willow and Cedar avenues. McKay said the plan is to gradually remove the trees, possibly one per year.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection classified Australian pines as an invasive species in 2003 and has requested they be removed “whenever possible” by local governments.
Anna Maria’s own landscaping ordinance prohibits the planting of Australian pines and classifies the tree as a non-native, invasive species.
Plant consultant Mike Miller, who is assisting McKay with the landscaping of Gulf Park, has said the trees should be removed. Miller said the trees are prone to topple in a hurricane because of a shallow root structure and the trees do not support native plants beneath its branches.