At least 50 citizens assembled at Florence City Hall on Monday evening, while a few more demonstrated on the sidewalk along Highway 101, voicing their concerns with the city’s plan to construct a multi-use path for walkers and bicyclists that will run to 35th Street and eventually all the way to Heceta Beach. People in the nearly standing-room-only chambers raised their hands to show support of various speakers. The first phase of the project is scheduled to be built between Ninth Street and Wild Winds, and the construction requires the removal of perhaps as many as 150 rhododendrons as well as other plants and trees. Besides removing the city’s “official” flower, the project could cut into a number of residents’ property lines or remove the vegetation that has grown in to provide a buffer for their homes. This project and its design and goals, documented as the Rhododendron Drive Integrated Transportation Plan, has been going through a public consensus process since about 2007. Mayor Nola Xavier responded, after a brief comment period at the June 2 City Council meeting, “You have our attention.” She announced a formal discussion will be added to the council’s Aug. 18 meeting, which is also open to the public.
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