BRAWLEY — Work crews have been spotted along Main Street in Brawley as 15 palm trees are being removed from the city’s Main Street. The palms being cut down are located on the north side of Main Street stretching from Vons to McDonalds restaurant.
According to Chava Macias, an Imperial Irrigation District line inspector, the palms pose a hazard to the power lines that they are under, pose a safety issue when they are trimmed, and pose a safety concern to the public.
“They have posed a hazard for years and I was told to remove them,” said Macias. The trees are being removed in conjunction with CalTrans, according to Macias.
The IID will remove the tops of the palm trees closest to the power lines and CalTrans will bring in a crew in about ten days to finish the removal, Macias said.
There was no mention of the removal at the last Brawley city council meeting.
Negotiations concerning the palm trees have been ongoing between IID, the city of Brawley, CalTrans, and members of the Brawley Beautification Committee (BBC) in the past. However, there have been no meetings between the groups for a couple of years, according to Robin Williams with the BBC.
“This is so sad,” said Williams. “These iconic trees are part of Brawley’s Main Street. They have been here for years; even before the power lines were constructed over them. In La Quinta, they would have never cut down the trees; they put the power lines under ground. I can’t believe this is happening.”
Williams is hoping that they trees will be replaced with other trees to keep Main Street’s appearance intact.
“This just shows you have to stay vigilant if you care for our city,” continued Williams. “People have to get involved. I don’t think the city cares. It’s really wrong and really sad. Without those palms, Main Street is going to look bad.”
“We knew nothing of the removal today,” said Rosanna Bayon Moore, Brawley city manager. “The removal was to begin before Cattle Call week, but we requested that it be postponed to a later date. CalTrans can shut the road down anytime they want without notifying the city. CalTrans has the right-of-way.”
Brawley Councilman Don Wharton said he knew nothing of the removal.
“If it was a question of if I would okay the removal, it would have been no,” said Wharton. “There should have been some type of communication to the city by IID and CalTrans. We were not notified.”
According to CalTrans public information officer Steve Shultz, IID requested the palm trees be removed because they are a hazard.
“IID said the trees are diseased and pose a threat to the power lines,” said Shultz.
IID released a statement concerning the palm tree removal:
“The palm trees in question have been the subject of on-going discussions between IID, CalTrans, and the city of Brawley. Due to the close proximity of the trees and our transmission lines, IID was asked to trim them down so that Caltrans personnel can safely come in and remove the diseased trees. The district remains committed to working with the city and Caltrans to find and select appropriate replacement vegetation.”
No entity is taking responsibility for the decision to remove the palm trees. According to some residents, not all of the trees are diseased and ones that were dying or dead were removed in the past.