Delray Beach will replace unsafe 100-foot Christmas tree for nearly $800,000

People line up to go inside the Delray Beach Christmas Tree Saturday night, December 3, 2016 in Delray Beach. Volunteers set up the 100 foot Christmas tree in November for the holidays. (Yuting Jiang / The Palm Beach Post)

People line up to go inside the Delray Beach Christmas Tree Saturday night, December 3, 2016 in Delray Beach. Volunteers set up the 100 foot Christmas tree in November for the holidays. (Yuting Jiang / The Palm Beach Post)

DELRAY BEACH — City leaders have agreed to replace the iconic 100-foot Christmas tree for nearly $800,000 after they learned the current tree is unsafe and structurally unsound.

The city commission on Tuesday evening approved the purchase of a new, aluminum tree without discussion. The walk-through Christmas tree, placed each year at Old School Square in downtown Delray Beach, has been holiday tradition in Delray Beach for 20-plus years.

The replacement tree will cost $790,000, as well as $6,200 on structural engineering for the tree’s foundation.

Two residents spoke during the meeting to discourage the city from dropping such a large sum on the tree.

It isn’t “cost-effective,” said Jackie Jones. “That money can be put toward infrastructure.”

» RELATED: Delray’s iconic 100-foot Christmas ‘unsafe’ and needs to be replaced

Timothy Boykin echoed the concern.

“That’s a slap in the face to a lot of working people,” Boykin told the commission. “I think it’s actually wasteful spending.”

In late January, city leaders learned the steel frame of the tree was rusting, bending and cracking. They’re opting now to purchase an aluminum tree because it’s easier to maintain.

“That means that we have been very lucky in putting up a tree that is structurally unsound … ” Mayor Cary Glickstein said at the time. “We all feel that the tree is certainly iconic, the tradition is important, but we’ve got public safety issues.”

Residents will not only see a new tree, but also a new location for holiday festivities.

The tree is usually placed on the front lawn of Old School Square, visible from Atlantic Avenue. But, per city request, Old School Square agreed to move the Christmas tree so it’s no longer on the front lawn.