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Singer’s comments on trees wrong, developer says

Friday, June 27, 2008 by Austin Monitor

Some remarks made by local blues legend Marcia Ball during a Wednesday night concert have the developers of the Barton Place Condos crying foul. According to several people who attended KGSR-FM’s “Blues on the Green” concert in Zilker Park, Ball told the crowd that the developers had cut down trees to build their project even after pledging to the neighborhood to protect those trees.

 

“That just simply is not the case,” said Perry Lorenz, who is one of the partners in the condominium development along with Larry Warshaw and Austin Java owner Rick Engel. “Because she is an important person and typically a credible person, people have boycotted Austin Java,” said Lorenz. “She asked the crowd to never patronize that restaurant again, and because of that Rick has had one of the very slowest days in the history of his restaurant…and all of that was based on her misunderstanding of what happened.”

 

In Fact Daily was unsuccessful in attempts to reach Ball for clarification of her remarks. She is scheduled to perform today in Milwaukee, Wis.

 

According to Lorenz, some trees were removed from the site, but the developers are planting replacements in accordance with the agreement worked out between the City of Austin and the Zilker Neighborhood Association and in conjunction with the guidelines set forth in the city’s tree ordinance. Lorenz also said some trees, which were being re-located as part of that agreement with the neighborhood, were unavoidably damaged during a severe storm last month.

 

“Part of our agreement was to save five of the native pecans by moving them across Toomey Road to Town Lake Park. We spent more than $100,000 cutting around the roots and fertilizing them to prepare them for the move. We had a major wind and storm event that took down hundreds and hundreds of trees around town and because the roots of these were weakened, they were destroyed,” Lorenz said. “Only one of the five were we able to move.”

 

He said the developers have been meeting with the City Arborist to discuss the number of replacement trees to plant and will meet in the future with the Zilker Neighborhood Association.

 

The developers hope that Ball’s comments will not affect their project’s reputation. “We saved many of the native pecans on the south end of the site. We saved a 300-year-old tree in the middle of the site,” Lorenz said. “We designed our project around it.”

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