I'm sure that it has been noticed that the entrance to WF has looked unsightly for quite a while, but I can assure you that it is not because of the Board's neglect. On the contrary the Board has been working on redoing the entrance for many, many months. Countless hours have been spent meeting with various companies and also on research to accomplish our goal. However, there have been several unforeseen obstacles that have made the project more difficult and take longer than anyone could have imagined. Ingrid Smith and I volunteered to work on the landscaping project for the Board - to do the research, meet with contractors and report back to the Board. In order to help everyone understand what transpired, here are the details of the process.
Let's start at the beginning --- late last Spring --- and keep in mind that unlike Disneyworld, where things happen overnight, we had to deal with and work around the schedules of various people doing work for us.
The Brazilian pepper trees that are on the property to the south had grown to form a canopy over our sidewalk and needed to be cut back. When talking with our landscape company about doing the job, we noticed that there was a dead tree on our property that had to be removed. We also discovered that there was a very large bee hive in that tree. The bees needed to be removed before the tree could be cut down. If they were honey bees we wanted to relocate them. Research showed it could cost up to $500 to relocate a hive, but Jim from Arbor Tec said he would put the hive on some vacant land he owns without charge, since he had been hired to remove the dead tree.
The landscape company then cut back the pepper trees to our property line. We weren't happy with the cut branches left on the ground, so they brought in a claw truck to remove the debris. In the process the heat from the truck's engine killed the arbacola along the roadway on the south side of Forest Run. The damage wasn't noticeable for a week or so and they were then told to remove the dead bushes. It took from 4 to 5 weeks to get this far.
Jim then had to grind out some underground roots and remove some plants in order to prepare the ground for the planting of a hedge to block the view of the cut-off trees on the vacant property. Again, this didn't happen quickly--a week or two at least.
While all of this was happening, Ingrid and I were doing research on what types of plants would be best for the barrier hedge and for both sides of the entrance. One side is in shade and one in full sun. We had some ideas, but then had to figure out who and where to purchase the plants and who would install them.
In the meantime, we worked with a stonemason to clean our sign and to build the stone walls for planting beds on both sides of Forest Run. Again, the work wasn't done right away, but on the mason's schedule. When the stone work was finished, we had the lighting company move and upgrade the lights. Each of these projects required several meetings with the different contractors. Now we were into summer-July/August.
After more research and discussions at the Board meetings, it was decided it would be better, more efficient, and more economical, if we could have one company do the entire landscaping renovation. Finding one that could do everything and was knowledgeable about all kinds of plants was the first challenge as this was an expensive project--but the tougher challenge was to find one that would work with an HOA. Most companies won't, but after several meetings with the owner, we were able to convince him that working with this Wickham Forest Board would not be the nightmare that can happen when working with HOAs. Summer was too hot to do the new plantings as they require watering every day, so it was planned for late Fall. We were to receive a proposal, approve it, give a deposit and we'd be put on their schedule.
Then along came Hurricane Matthew!!!! Of course, our project was delayed as the company had to do hurricane debris cleanup for all their current customers. We knew if we were really lucky it could be done by Christmas. But then, the large limb broke off our beautiful old oak tree at the entrance and Jim from Arbor Tec came in and cleaned that up. At the time, we had no idea if the tree could be saved. We wanted to save it if we could, but needed some expert opinions. In the meantime, the Board felt, for safety reasons, that we should remove the two large limbs that were hanging over the sidewalk and roadway. We also hoped that it would give us an idea of the stability of the tree. This couldn't be done immediately as Arbor Tec's bucket truck was in the shop being repaired. It was done 2 weeks later and the area where the limbs were cut off looked good, with no rotting, so we still didn't have an answer as to what to do about the tree. Many homeowners asked that we do all we could to save it. I contacted the Florida Extension service for their opinion and spoke with other sources. But even if the tree was not cut down, the landscape company had to redo the plans as now there would be more sun on the south side and that would mean different plants. That was done and the contract was signed. We were on the schedule-Feb/March.
Now after having the recommendation of the Florida Extension service and having the arborist take another look at the condition of the tree, it has been decided that it must be cut down. This will require that the big root be ground down to a depth of at least 3 feet in order to either plant a replacement tree or a viburnum in the empty space. We also have to call DIG to check for underground utilities in the area before it can be done. I have no idea how long that will take. Now, of course, the plantings for the south side will have to be changed again, as now there will be a lot more sun.
No one wants this project finished more than I do! Countless hours have been spent trying to get this done, and the Board has committed our time, resources and the money to seeing that our entrance represents the wonderful, beautiful community we live in. The management company has nothing to do with this project, as this was started last year. It's just been one delay or disaster after another -- who could have predicted the Hurricane and having to now cut down a tree that is over 100 years old. What awful timing! I assure you, the entrance landscaping project will get done, and soon...
1st VP - WFHOA