By Bryan Boggiano
The floodgates of criticism were opened by a torrent of residents who condemned Coral Springs Improvement District’s (CSID) proposed Stormwater Resiliency and Safety Project to remove trees from canal rights-of-way throughout the city’s south side.
The developments occurred at CSID’s Board of Directors meeting on Monday at J.P. Taravella High School, where residents came out in full force against CSID’s upcoming stormwater project.
CSID’s project, according to the district’s website, is a phased canal maintenance initiative designed to remove vegetation that could fall into canals and block water flow, which could cause flooding.
The rights-of-way fall within five to 30 feet of the canal’s edge. CSID notes Hurricane Irma, which grazed Southeast Florida, served as a wakeup call for potential flooding from fallen trees, where trees fell into canals and obstructed water flow. CSID subsequently removed 500 tons of vegetation. But, more than 2,500 trees remain within the rights-of-way.
There is no set start date for the stormwater safety and resiliency project.
No work will take place on private property but rather from barges in the canals.
Even though there has been no storm event since 2017, the district said flooding would occur if the Stormwater Resiliency and Safety Project does not take place.
“The reason that the board is discussing this project is for everybody’s safety,” said CSID Board of Directors President Dr. Martin Shank.
Residents said removing trees would increase noise pollution, ruin aesthetics, and the city’s canopy, cause environmental damage, increase erosion, reduce carbon storage, and lower property values. They also accused the board of not being transparent.
Others urged for focusing on water quality, including clearing the canals of debris and invasive aquatic species.
Previously, some residents established the “Save Our Trees” campaign to oppose the project.
“Trees have value, and they’re worth protecting, too,” said Karina Sims.
Residents also considered the adverse effects to wildlife, including ospreys, bald eagles, and squirrels.
Raquel Alexander said, “If you remove all those trees, where will all of those animals live?”
Robert Fogle said there was no difference between trees in the right-of-way versus trees in the street, saying both are hazards for causing flooding and damage. He said keeping the drains in the roads clear would do more to reduce flooding and future risk.
“It doesn’t make sense that we’re going after the trees and the beautification of our city, Fogle said. “It doesn’t fly in my eyes, not after 33 years of being in this town.”
Robert Norris was concerned about CSID’s transparency, saying the board only notified residents about the project through a newsletter in 2023, even though CSID had been discussing the project for two years prior.
“I understand what it takes to run a utility, and this board has failed,” he said. “The sky is not falling in the city of Coral Springs, and it will not flood due to our tree canopy.”
Former Mayor Roy Gold said CSID would violate Section 212 of the city’s land development code by not submitting permit applications to the city or getting land surveys for the Stormwater Resiliency and Safety Project tree removals. He also criticized the scope of the project.
“[CSID’s} point of view seems to be extreme to be removing a lot of trees, and we have to look at this from a more limited scope.”
Gold said removing dying trees and non-native, invasive vegetation would be a better route.
City Commissioner Joshua Simmons criticized the board for stating the city commission approved the project. He said the commission is not behind the project, stating CSID communicated it poorly, among other criticisms.
In response, Board of Supervisors President Dr. Martin Shank said nobody ever discussed clear-cutting rights-of-way or talked about the project before January 2023.
The board will establish a ten-person resident panel, including an attorney, to guide the project’s future and issue recommendations. They will also consult an arborist to decide which trees to remove and which to keep.
“We listen to you, and we will continue to listen to you,” Shank said.
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- A University of Florida journalism graduate, Bryan is pursuing his masters in geosciences at Florida International University. He has a strong interest in weather, entertainment, and journalism.
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