The city of Santa Monica has begun making way for construction of the planned Palisades Garden Walk park.

The proposed Civic Center park will be located on the block bounded by Ocean Avenue, the 10 Freeway, Main Street and the future Olympic Drive.

City crews have started to prepare the site for construction by removing the parking lot surfaces and fixtures that have been used for employee and event-related parking in recent years. The City Council has also approved design development plans for the new community park, which include a tree relocation plan where 76 trees will be protected in their current location, city officials said.

Under the plan, 27 trees will be moved and replanted within the park and 20 palm trees will be moved and replanted off-site and out of the coastal zone. City officials noted that only two ficus trees on the property will be removed and not relocated due to their poor condition.

The most challenging and dramatic of the tree relocations for city crews is expected to involve a trio of gigantic Ficus rubinginosa trees that sit directly in the way of the future extension of Olympic Drive between Main and Ocean.

The trees have come to be known as the “Three Amigos” and moving trees of such a scale requires the contractor to work in two phases, city officials note.

During the first phase, each of the “Three Amigos” will be carefully root pruned and boxed, and the trees will then sit in place for 60 days while their roots adjust and the initial shock wears off.

After the 60 days, each tree will be carefully lifted, using a lifting system similar to how homes are moved and placed onto a truck bed. The trees will then be driven about 550 feet from their current location, lowered again using the lifting system and planted based on the approved park design.

The other trees on-site will be either pruned and boxed, or pruned and wrapped in burlap, and moved to final planting locations. A group of 20 Washingtonia robusta palm trees will be transported to Woodlawn Cemetery and planted there, as California Coastal Commission policy prevents the city from replanting these trees anywhere within the coastal zone, including the park site.

The city Recreation and Parks Commission will hold a community meeting to consider suggestions from the public on another name for the Palisades Garden Walk park and then make recommendations to the City Council. The meeting is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 21 at Santa Monica City Council Chambers, 1685 Main St.

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