The Elk Grove City Council on June 26 voted to have an artificial Christmas tree placed at the city’s future civic center. The initial cost will be $98,000.

A city staff report noted that the purpose of adding a Christmas tree to the center is to “enhance Elk Grove’s holiday experience and offer a place-making attraction to the city’s new facility.”

The tree would also be the first official Christmas tree in the 19-year-old city’s history.

Elk Grove has traditionally had a Christmas tree through a coordinated effort between the Old Town Elk Grove Foundation and private property owners. Those trees have been lit as part of the Elk Grove Dickens Street Faire every November.

The staff report notes: “Despite the good intentions of these property owners, some residents have expressed dissatisfaction with the modest adornment of this tree.”

City staff proposed to introduce a civic center tree with an accompanying holiday event that would include a tree lighting ceremony on Dec. 7.

The council was presented with three options:

Option 1 – automated tree

The first option would be to have a 40- to 60-foot, live tree with an automated show experience.

As the most costly option, this tree package was estimated to cost about $125,000 for its first year. That amount would include the tree, lighting, decorations, and musical elements.

An option to remove the audio components would have lowered the cost to about $80,000.

Recurring costs in following years for a live tree and its accompanying elements were estimated to total about $45,000.

Option 2 - artificial tree

The second option – which the council selected – was for an artificial tree similar to those typically found at shopping malls and hotel properties.

It was estimated that the option would cost about $98,000, which includes installation and removal, as well as a $5,000 contingency.

Following the initial year, the cost would be about $33,000 per year.

Option 3 – live, traditional tree

The third option presented to the council was a live tree with traditional decorations.

It was also the least expensive option, with a cost of about $53,000 per year.

However, it would be more expensive than option #2 following the initial year, due to the need to purchase another live tree each year.

Council chooses Option 2

During a discussion about whether to select a live tree or an artificial tree, Council Member Steve Detrick noted that an artificial tree is more cost-effective, since it does not have to be purchased every year. On average, an artificial tree can last up to eight years.

After deciding on an artificial tree, the council debated on whether to have a realistic- looking tree or a modern, ribbon-type tree.

The council ultimately chose the ribbon-type tree.

Vice Mayor Pat Hume gave his reasoning for wanting an artificial tree with ribbons.

“I prefer the ribbon, because I think it’s a little more inclusive,” he said. “It’s more of a celebration of lights necessarily, than any particular religious denomination.”

Council Member Stephanie Nguyen responded to Hume’s comment.

“I agree,” she said. “I like the ribbon one, too. It’s very modern. It’s different.”

The council also supported having the city’s Multicultural Committee add a display to this project.