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Burbank ponders pricy replacement of Camphor trees at Memorial Field

January 20, 2012
  • The Burroughs High School Memorial Field track is almost complete, at the Burbank campus on Friday, January 20, 2012. A berry from a Camphor tree on the street fell on the unfinished track. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
The Burroughs High School Memorial Field track is almost…

As a $12.2 million makeover of Memorial Field at John Burroughs High School nears completion, city leaders and school board members continue debating the possibility of replacing six camphor trees on one end of the field – a move that would cost the district about $21,000.

Earlier this month, Burbank Unified School District officials warned that berries from the trees would stain the stadium’s artificial-turf surface and the track. Though the stains would not harm the structure, the discoloration would not be covered by any warranty, and district officials said there is little money to spend on extra maintenance.

“There’s a reduction in staffing,” Burbank Unified Supt. Stan Carrizosa said, speaking at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. “We’re not staffed to the level we’d like, and for us, the stadium is special.”

The stadium usually is cleaned on a weekly basis, with additional cleaning following special events, Carrizosa noted in his presentation.

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“I take some responsibility for not researching the dropping period,” Carrizosa said. “That’s something we didn’t have the experience to think through. But I don’t own that on my own. That’s all of us, we share in that responsibility.”

Deputy Parks Director Jan Bartolo said in an email this week that the trees drop their berries annually and that December and January is the period of heaviest droppage.

Bartolo said it wouldn’t harm the trees if they were pruned before they are scheduled to drop berries.

“However, since they’ve just been recently pruned [in July], a sufficient amount of time would have to transpire before they’re pruned again,” Bartolo said. ”These are mature, established trees that we wouldn’t want to place in an accelerated decline.”

Councilman Dave Golonski said he understood the additional maintenance cost and agreed about wanting to keep the area clean. But he said he wasn’t convinced the staining and maintenance outweighed benefits the roughly 50-year-old trees provide.

“I’m not going to support removing the trees tonight,” Golonski said.

He urged everyone to “take a step back, take a deep breath.”

“I don’t feel we’re under the gun, as we were led to believe originally,” Golonski said.

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