The tree is reportedly scheduled to be cut down this week, and a number of residents are saying they will tie themselves to the tree, or at least the opening to the construction fencing that has been erected around the concession stand, which is part of the modernization the Parker-Gray Memorial Stadium at T.C. Williams High School. It includes a new concession stand, bathrooms and storage space.
“Much consideration has been given to finding a way to save this tree which unfortunately is positioned in the middle of the site where the concession and restroom area will be,” ACPS spokeswoman Julie Allen told ALXnow in a statement. “When planning, the goal was to locate this facility as far as away from the neighborhood on Woods Avenue as possible to minimize its impact on residents. Although we understand and agree that losing a mature tree is regrettable, 31 new trees and other landscaping will be planted.”
The project was approved in the fall of 2018, and the initial design would have saved the tree, however that would have pushed the building toward the fence line near neighboring property lines.
Former Mayor Allison Silberberg joined a handful of community activists at T.C. on Monday night to talk about the issue.
“This oak tree is very old and absolutely beautiful and large, and it’s the only tree that would provide shade out there,” she said. “I felt very strongly that the concession stand and bathroom facilities should not be near residential homes. I urged the staff of ACPS and the city to look at putting it at the other end, closer to the school and they felt that there wasn’t enough room.”
MacArthur Myers said that, if possible, he would chain himself to the tree.
“It’s always going to be Parker-Gray Stadium,” Myers said. “You don’t have to tear everything down.”
Susie Saffelle Hughes said she spoke with the City Arborist, who told her that the tree is healthy.
“After races the kids make a beeline over to that area because that particular tree offers such relief from the heat of the sun beating down,” Hughes said. “There isn’t another shade tree around that’s not a dinky little stick. Also for grandma and grandpa who can’t sit in the bleachers in the hot stands… it’s a welcome relief to sit at one of the picnic tables under the shade tree.”
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