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Palm Pilots

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For decades, Biscayne Boulevard was a regal stretch of road, a tropical gateway to paradise. Visitors were greeted with smooth asphalt, clean family-friendly motels and towering palm trees. Today, of course, it's mostly commuters that flow into Miami via Biscayne, and they are assaulted daily by never ending views of annoying construction, hourly motels and hookers. The royal palm trees are the only attractive thing about Biscayne these days.

But even they may disappear. The Florida Department of Transportation has already uprooted 130 palm trees on Biscayne because of the construction. They are supposed to be replaced with Oak trees, which will provide shade, according to state plans.

But a group of Miami residents is fighting the change. On Monday night — a dark and stormy one, no less -- five people held signs on the corner of Biscayne and 68th St., in protest of chopping down any more trees. They especially want to save the hundreds of trees still standing south of 36th Street.

"I'm here to support Biscayne Boulevard and her palms," said Sean-Paul Melito, who was holding a sign that said "A Royal Shame." He has already lobbied lawmakers to designate the road as a Scenic Transportation Corridor.

"The palms have been an iconic symbol of our city," he said, adding that the FDOT was supposed to relocate the palms to Watson Island, but two-thirds of the trees have died.

Melito and the handful of other protestors offered informational flyers and cupcakes to the passing drivers. The flyers showed a 1950s-era postcard of Biscayne, calling it "one of the most beautiful boulevards in America."

Tamara Lush

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