Plans in place to refurbish campus lawn

For returning students, the lawn in front of Schwitzer Hall might look a little bit naked.

Eight trees were removed along Hampton Drive on the south side of Butler University’s campus over the summer.

Mike Gardner, vice president for operations, said plans to reline the road with new trees have been in place for years.

“A good portion of them were diseased and/or dying,” he said. “We had significantly pruned three of them until they were almost more stump than they were tree.

“There were a couple of Silver Maples that were, for lack of a better term, messy trees.”

Gardner said there are plans to plant 16 new trees along Hampton Drive this fall to replace the removed trees.

“We’ll be planting predominantly different types of maple,” he said.

Gardner said a variety of species were removed.

Junior biology and education major Madie Podgorski said the replacement of the trees was a great idea.

“It’s wonderful that they are replanting double the amount of native maple trees,” she said. “The trees make campus more comfortable because they provide shade and beauty.”

There was a Swamp White oak at the southeast corner of Atherton. There were also a walnut, a catalpa, two cherry trees, and the silver maples.

Director for the Center for Urban Ecology Tim Carter said that anytime large trees are removed it changes the campus environment.

“Maintenance and landscaping decisions obviously have a big impact on the look, feel and function of campus,” he said.

Carter said that all trees on campus not only contribute to the cultural atmosphere of campus but also the health of Butler’s ecosystem.

“All the trees on campus remove many pollutants from the atmosphere,” he said. “If students spend any time outside, I would think they would want their environment to be healthy and productive.”

Gardner and his staff are taking a special interest in the university’s trees.

“We’ve got a 1993 tree inventory that I’ve asked my staff to dust off and update,” he said. “That takes some time but I think it will open up some eyes as to how many trees we’ve really added and planted on campus in the last 17 years.”

Gardner also said the campus boasts Marion county’s largest white oak tree, located on the northside of Robertson Hall, which he estimates is over 400 years old.

“It’s a neat tree, which we have taken great steps to preserve.”

Gardner said Butler has made maintaining and improving the green space on campus a priority for the future.

“We will continue to monitor the landscape of the campus and plant trees where we can,” he said. “If you look at the master plan going forward, it really provides for more green space than exists today.

“If we were to build all the buildings in the master plan someday, most of those buildings are on current parking lots, which would allow us to turn around and create courtyards between the buildings.”

Though the university has taken great efforts to preserve other trees campus-wide, it wasn’t a possibility for the trees along Hampton Drive.

“Trees, like people, have a finite life,” Gardner said. “At some point in time, they die.”

Gardner said he also has student safety in mind when deciding which trees must go.

He does an annual night-walk of the campus to determine which spots on campus don’t provide enough visibility for student safety.

“We spent a lot of time this summer limbing up trees primarily out here on the main mall,” Gardner said, “just to provide a visibility and get a little more light into spaces,” he said.

“That’s at the crux of this. We have to provide the safest campus possible and sometimes that means a tree might have to be cut down.”

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