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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — When you picture a beach paradise you might imagine beautiful sand, crashing waves, and palm trees swaying in the breeze. But in Wilmington, those tropical trees have become trunks.

“I just hate to see a tree get taken down when it doesn’t have to be,” Richard Buggeln said.

Buggeln says he and his wife walk at Wrightsville Beach about three times a week, passing the palm trees lining Eastwood Road near the drawbridge every time, until now.

“The trees have started, a couple of them have already fallen themselves due to disease, and it was time to go ahead and remove them and replace the trees,” NC DOT Engineer Joe Chance said.

Chance says at least 7 of the 19 palm trees, put in several years ago, were diseased. But Buggeln says this would not have been a problem if the DOT had just taken better care of the trees.

“If you have them you might as well maintain them,” Buggeln said. “It’s sort of like if you have a bad child. You’re stuck with them, you maintain them, and you do what you can for them. You just don’t get rid of them and tear them down.”

Instead, the area is infested with weeds, and now downed dead trees and stumps. But plans are underway to spruce up the area again.

“Working with the City of Wilmington, they are going to put in a multi-use path down through here,” Chance explained. “I don’t know the timeline on that, but we are going to go ahead and redo the whole area and hardscape it, make it look really nice.”

Chance says the DOT is replacing the palms with about six oak trees, but he won’t know until the end of the work week how much it cost to remove the trees. He says replacing the palms with oaks will cost $3,500 just for the trees.

City spokesman Dylan lee says the multi-use path, expected to go in sometime next year will extend the cross-city trail.

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