Waterford considers cutting down 40 trees on high school grounds

The Waterford school district is seeking to remove roughly 40 pine trees from the campus of Waterford High School. District officials said the trees are a "nuisance" and obstruct the view of the school from the street, posing potential safety issues.

"Also, from an aesthetic perspective, it would enhance the campus," Superintendent of Schools Jerome Belair said Tuesday.

Belair wrote a letter to Planning Director Dennis Goderre on Feb. 18 outlining the district's request. The superintendent and School Building Committee Chairman Alan Wilensky presented their proposal at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Monday.

Commissioners said they wanted to view the trees before deciding whether to approve a site plan modification. The commission will discuss the trees again at its March 10 meeting, and at that time may decide whether to approve cutting down the pines.

The trees are by the road in front of the entrance to the school and along two sides of the tennis courts.

Commission Chairwoman Gwen Hughes questioned whether removing the trees would make a marked impact on visibility of the school, which recently underwent major additions and modifications.

"I have no problems seeing that building. It's huge," she said.

Commissioner Dana Award said he was concerned that razing the growth would cause interference between lights illuminating the tennis courts and sports fields.

Belair said Tuesday that such interference would not occur. He noted in the letter that the trees "are a continual maintenance issue with pine needles and small branches dropping onto the tennis court playing surface."

O & G Industries project manager Gus Kotait estimated that the removal of the roughly 40 trees would cost $18,000. O&G is contracted by the district for construction management.

The idea to chop down the trees was first discussed at a School Building Committee meeting about a year ago, according to Belair. He said the committee unanimously supported removal.

If the trees are removed, other plants such as smaller trees or shrubs could replace them, according to Planner Mark Wujtewicz.

Kotait said Tuesday that many trees have been planted in other locations on campus since construction of the new high school. He said he did not have on hand the exact number of new trees.

t.townsend@theday.com

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