By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
For anyone who enjoys seeing palm trees gently swaying in the breeze, you might be able to save yourself the airfare to Florida to admire them this fall.
Sea Isle City has no plans at this time to replace the palm trees that have whimsically transformed the main entryway into town into a tropical-like setting reminiscent of Florida or the Caribbean islands.
“Yes, they do still look nice, and they should do well through the autumn season,” city spokeswoman Katherine Custer said Monday.
Sea Isle spent $8,000 to buy 40 palm trees from a grower in Florida and planted them along the John F. Kennedy Boulevard corridor just in time for the Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of the summer tourism season.
Mayor Leonard Desiderio acknowledged at that time that the palm trees likely would not survive through winter.
“We know these won’t be permanent and we know we’ll need to do something else when winter comes, but we thought this would be a nice touch; and we think it’ll look great when you come over the bridge,” he said in a statement.
But for now, the palm trees seem to be doing fine. For the most part, their delicate fronds have retained their soothing green color through the early part of fall.
The palms replaced maple and magnolia trees that fared poorly in the shore’s salty and windy environment. Many of the trident maples and sweetbay magnolias that previously lined JFK Boulevard died off or were reduced to scraggly, leafless skeletons – hardly leaving a good first impression on visitors arriving in Sea Isle.
The city consulted with several landscaping experts and was told that the wide open east-west corridor makes it especially difficult for many species of street trees to survive in the shore environment.
“Due to this, the City has decided to do something a little different to make the entrance way to Sea Isle City more inviting by planting palm trees,” the city said in a statement post on its website.
The hope was that Sea Isle’s residents and visitors would enjoy the Florida-like look that beautifies the primary artery into town. The inviting entranceway was designed to lift everyone’s spirits as visitors headed to the shore for summer getaways.
With the weather still staying mild, the leafy palms will continue to welcome residents and visitors arriving on JFK Boulevard through fall.
“It is known that this is not a permanent solution and something else will have to be addressed come winter. In the meantime, please enjoy this nice touch to our entrance corridor,” the city said in its statement.