From Engineers to Arborists - The Evolution of a Sidewalk Repair Project in Coconut Grove, Florida (#28)
In 2010 the City of Miami issued an RFP to engineering firms to repair damaged sidewalks in the Business District of Coconut Grove, an historic, upscale, bayside community known for its lush tropical canopy cover and bohemian residents. The brick sidewalks in front of boutique shops and sidewalk cafes had been buckled by tree roots, creating significant tripping hazards. The engineering firm selected for the project hired a landscape architecture firm as a sub-consultant, who in turn, hired a consulting arborist. The consulting arborist evaluated all of the existing trees and determined which should remain and which should be removed and replaced. The Landscape Architect evaluated the sidewalk and planter conditions and made recommendations regarding paving and planting design. Discussions ensued about how to protect and improve existing trees, eliminate tripping hazards now and in the future, how to replace removed trees with the best prospects for long-term health and safety, and species selection. Sidewalk and Urban Trees Specialist, Jim Urban, FASLA, was consulted about structural issues and the use of suspended pavements and soil specifications.
Local merchants, arborists, and activists were involved in the decision-making process and numerous public meetings were held. In the beginning there was skepticism by the merchants, opposition from the community, and budget concerns by the City, but half-way through the project, with four streets completed, the project is viewed as a huge success and those who previously objected are now strong supporters.