The decision will probably be made this coming Monday, by an Alameda County Superior Court judge, regarding the fate of more then three dozen oak trees in danger of being removed by, University Of California Berkeley, in order to make room for a $125 million athletic training center, which includes a 900 space parking garage and the seismic retrofit of Berkeley's Memorial Stadium. The project, the university claims is badly needed, has been met with opposition for over a month now, by local environmentalists, and residents of Berkeley, including long-time resident, folk singer, Country Joe McDonald. Tree sitters have been keeping watch over the beautiful grove of Oak trees since early December, and have no intention of leaving. The new training center would provide accommodations for the over 300 staff and students who would use the facility. The tree sitters are in favor of the new center being built, just not at the cost of the trees, some of which are over 200 years old.
The tree sitters cause got a boost this past week, when three very brave Berkeley residents joined them in protest of the planned removal. 71 year old Shirley Dean, the former mayor of Berkeley, Betty Olds, Berkeley City Councilwoman, and Sylvia Mclaughlin, 91, co-founder of Save The Bay, allowed themselves to be hoisted up high into the trees, to demonstrate their commitment to seeing the trees being saved. What a snazzy thing to do! I am somewhat afraid of heights, so I am not sure I could be that brave. As I drove by the grove today, I saw that the protest continues, and I am glad. I am really hoping the decision will be to keep the trees in place. One of the nicest things about Berkeley, is the beautiful trees that surround the city, and outline the university. This particular grove provides a calm, natural escape from the narrow, sometimes, packed streets that line the university. The trees represent a part of Berkeley's natural history. What a shame it would be to lose that forever, in the name of progress. Sigh.
Here is some of what I saw today, as I visited the grove...
You can read more about the effort to save the trees at the "Save The Oaks" official website.
UPDATE: An Alameda County judge issued a temporary restraining order this morning (Monday 1/29/06) to halt the construction of the Memorial Stadium project. Go Trees! :)
"The Oak Grove"
2245 Piedmont ave
January 27th, 2007