Pupils, teachers seek to save horse chestnut
The 80-year-old tree is slated to be cut down to make way for a driveway.
KIRTLAND, Ohio (AP) -- An 80-year-old horse chestnut is needed not only for biology lessons but childhood imagination, say those trying to save the tree, which is in the way of a planned new driveway for an expansion at the Kirtland Schools campus.
Pupils and teachers have passed out hundreds of fliers to local businesses, asking owners to stick up for the tree with a triple trunk.
"I've been using the tree in my class since 1985. Its stems can teach us about climate patterns and the changing seasons," said high school science teacher David Machnicki, adding it's also used by art classes.
"I've seen hundreds of children scoop up the chestnuts like they were magical."
The tree's fate hasn't been decided, but changing the construction plans would be costly, Superintendent Stan Lipinski said. The driveway is planned when 10 classrooms and another building are built this spring.
Construction officials estimate it could cost 20,000 to move a fire hydrant so the driveway could be rerouted, Lipinski said. It would cost even more to move a utility pole in the way.
"It will depend on a number of variables," Lipinski said. "Do we have to move a fire hydrant and a utility pole, and can we get the construction project done on time and on budget if we move the drive?"
Moving the tree is another costly option and might not work. Transplanting large, old trees is cumbersome and expensive because it requires taking so much more soil to protect the roots, and many trees don't survive the trauma, said Charles Tubesing, chief horticulturist at the nearby Holden Arboretum in Kirtland.
While officials recognize the tree is important to classrooms, Lipinski said, the costs would be passed on to taxpayers.
The flier doesn't seek money. Under a picture of the tree it says, "I have taught thousands of Kirtland's sons and daughters over the last 20 years. ... Please be my voice."
Kirtland is about 20 miles northeast of Cleveland.