Whispering Palms CSD to revisit plan for landscaping

Whispering Palms Community Services District is starting from “square one” on its plans to refresh the landscaping at the community’s entrance on Cancha de Golf and CSD-managed land along Via de la Valle. At its Jan. 24 meeting, the board, which includes two new members, requested to begin a productive dialogue on what they would like to see, working with landscape architect Pat Coyne on a new design.

“It’s a blank slate at this point in time,” said General Manager Chuck Duffy, noting the old controversial plan which proposed removing and replacing 54 palm trees on the Cancha de Golf median is no longer in play.

The hope is for Coyne to begin discussions with the board at its Feb. 14 meeting. Duffy said there wasn’t a lot of controversy with the lower landscaping in the previous plan, designed by Coyne. Those elements included removing the turf from the Cancha de Golf median and along Via de la Valle, and installing cobble and drought-tolerant plants such as low-level agaves.

Board member Byron Hanchett said he would like to take the landscaping project in pieces, dealing with Via de la Valle and Cancha de Golf landscaping separately.

“I think it’s critical for us to think globally but break this into bite-size pieces for decision making,” agreed board member Doug Manatt.

Specifically, Hanchett said he would like to address the spit rail fencing along the golf course that is in disrepair. Duffy said there is some complications as portions of the fence are not on CSD property but belong to Morgan Run Golf Club. Duffy said he would reach out to the golf club about the possibility of the CSD replacing the fence.

The board also plans to remove diseased olive trees along Via de la Valle. The previous board’s landscaping plan involved replacing the olive trees with California pepper trees. There was some concern expressed about the pepper trees being messy with leaf drop.

Duffy said the board will be able to have a discussion about whether the peppers are still the preferred option.

The Palma de la Reina mixed-use development on Cancha de Golf has approached the CSD and offered to integrate its landscape plan. In the past, the board has had questions about control over the landscaping and who would pay for water and maintenance.

“One of the reasons it’s not favorably looked upon is the CSD has never allowed private enterprise to take over,” board member Kathy McHenry said.

Board member Bill Haynor said when it came up before, he was in favor of moving ahead with the developers’ pre-approved plan from the county that could potentially save the CSD money. Haynor said he thinks Palma de la Reina’s plans can still be considered as an alternative along with what Coyne and the new board comes up with.

The board’s next meeting will be held on Feb. 14 at 4 p.m. at Morgan Run Club & Resort.