Officials hope to reduce water and maintenance costs through the retrofit project, which would ultimately remove 71,933 square feet of grass in the medians from Hillside Road to Fourth Street.
The project would also remove 192 magnolia trees on the median. About 305 magnolia trees and 85 Canary Island date palm trees would remain. Many of the Magnolias have been suffering from wilt disease.
Some of the healthy trees that had been removed will be planted in other areas of town. A number of replacement trees that consume less water will be planted to help preserve the feel of the existing landscape design, officials said.
Work on the first phase of the project, between Church Street and Foothill Boulevard, is expected to be completed by Friday. The remainder of the Haven Avenue project will be completed by mid-2013, officials said.
The first phase is meant to be a demonstration to show the public what the rest of the project will look like as construction continues on Haven, said Public Works Director Bill Wittkopf.
"I think we want to get through this project and make sure we have a good demonstration area so we can show what the final project will look like. We can use that as we move forward with other retrofit projects based on time and funding."
The median project, which costs $242,110, is estimated to save $99,900 annually, officials said and reduce annual water consumption by as much as two million gallons.
"We've been forced to look at ways we can conserve our precious resources such as water and man-made resources such and energy, natural gas to do our best to try to grow into a sustainable green community," said Mayor Dennis Michael of the Haven project.
"I know some people are concerned about eliminating trees but the trees are starved and are having problems themselves. Many of the Magnolia trees will remain and the benefit is reduced cost to the taxpayer. It's still going to be just as beautiful."
The project will serve as a pilot for similar proposed landscaping overhauls on Milliken Avenue and Base Line Road. Proposed projects to convert medians for less water usage on Milliken and Base Line are on hold depending on council direction and water costs there, Wittkopf said.
Michael said expansion of such projects would continue.
"This is the first of many retrofits yet to come," he said.
The Haven project, Wittkopf said, was chosen to move forward first because it had the highest return on investment.
Reach Neil via email, call him at 909-483-9356, or find him on Twitter @InlandGov.