Palm trees may be on chopping block at PGA West

Palm trees in PGA West may be on chopping block

LA QUINTA, Calif. - Gary Dolenga's been a resident of PGA West for 14 years. Every year, he's been greeted by a row of towering palms on PGA Boulevard, but recently Dolenga got word that the PGA West Master Association had potential plans to eliminate those healthy, non-diseased trees. "It's a small group of people who are making a decision for a large group of people," said Dolenga.

The so-called plans also include desert landscaping, as well as a drip water irrigation system to conserve water in the serious California drought conditions. But cutting down 93 Mexican palm trees was taking it a step too far. The trees line the median on PGA Boulevard all the way down to the golf clubhouse. Dolenga emailed community members to spread the word, and he received over 500 email responses in under three weeks. Everyone was very supportive of saving the palm trees.

The PGA West Master Association responded with a statement, saying, "The board is exploring potential landscape enhancement in the community to save water, be environmentally and financially responsible, and to modernize the look of PGA Boulevard. No decisions have been made, in fact there is not even a formal plan for the board to vote on." The statement contradicts what happened in a May board meeting. Dolenga described blueprints being rolled out for a potential landscaping proposal that included plans for water conservation, sod removal for more desert landscaping, and the Mexican palm trees removed.

Resident Robert Waska only heard about the situation though Dolenga's email. "I'd need to hear what their compelling reasons are, but I can't think of any." Waska added, "probably the first thing to do is educate the community on what their reasoning is." Community members plan on attending the next master association meeting on Thursday, September 4th in Palm Desert with a special message they'd like to deliver to the board. "Do this updating, make the water conservation efforts," Dolenga said, then added, "but leave the washingtonia robusta (mexican palm) trees, leave those in place."

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