TAMPA - When it came to choose a spot for senior class photos, Vanessa Nguyen and her mom knew the Riverwalk would be picture perfect.
"I really like the water and the trees and the flowers. It is such a pretty view," said Nguyen.
But the trees in the background paint a less than pretty picture.
"You can look at the bark and you can just see which one is alive and which are dead. Just look at the bark and you can snap the bark and you know they are dead," said Bill Kusler.
Kusler and his crew are working to remove the trees and install a new drain system. The city said old buildings once demolished around the area caused an unseen drainage problem. With recent heavy rains and the sloping terrain along the Riverwalk, the water had nowhere to drain.
"The water was saturating the roots and the roots were dying. That was causing the trees to die because they are not water trees," said Kusler.
With a few weeks before the Republican National Convention, the city of Tampa is rushing to replace the oaks with 16 cypress trees. The cost, including a new drainage system, totals $72,000.
"The cypress trees will be fine because they are water trees. They grow in the water," said Kusler.
Out of all the oaks that have to be removed, the city said only two can be saved. They plan to plant them on higher ground behind the Glazer Children's Museum. Vanessa and her mom said the Cypress trees are a good replacement, but without the oaks, their picture perfect view won't be the same.
"I think I like the oaks better," said Nguyen.
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