Friday, December 23, 2005

ASU project plucks old trees from lawn

[Source: Eugene Scott, Arizona Republic] -- When Arizona State University students return to campus after winter break, they'll notice a shade shortage. Nearly 20 trees have been removed from Old Main lawn as part of a restoration project, and everyone isn't excited about the change. The project aims to make Old Main lawn the "gateway to the university" by enhancing its aesthetic beauty, ASU President Michael Crow said.

"We hope to enable current and future visitors to the campus to see Old Main as it was originally intended to be seen," Crow said Thursday. "It is important for the university to recognize and preserve its heritage, as well as to highlight the beauty of the environment in which it exists."

The lawn, like all ASU grounds, is part of the Arboretum at Arizona State University. And Mary Young, an arboretum volunteer, said that she fears some of the trees being removed are part of the original group planted by former ASU president Arthur John Matthews in the early 20th century. Young frequently gives historical tours of the arboretum and faculty and students often use the grounds for research. "To take out old trees in Arizona, you should have a good reason, and to be able to see Old Main is not a good reason," she said.

The restoration of Old Main lawn, which will be complete by spring graduation, has been in the works for several years, said Diane McCarthy, ASU Foundation senior vice president of community and university partnerships. "When I was president of the ASU Alumni Association, it always frustrated me that you can't see Old Main from University Drive, so we had a lot of discussions about it and had a donor who said they'd help us take it back to what it looked like in 1912," McCarthy said.

Terri Shafer, assistant vice president of public affairs, said the restoration project would benefit the university in the long run. The trees that are being discarded were diseased or dying, Shafer said, and poor maintenance had turned Old Main lawn into an eyesore that clashed with the recently renovated Old Main building, ASU's original building.

[Note: To read the full article,
click here. For more information about the project from ASU, click here. Photo source: Arizona State University.]