On September 19 Arlington School Board voted to remove dozens of trees from the construction site of the new Reed School in Westover, including most of a grove of majestic hardwoods that have provided shade and quiet enjoyment for generations of students and local residents.
Arlington Public Schools (APS) claims that the destruction is necessary to install geothermal infrastructure, a play ground, and a walkway around the school. At a tour of the site on September 16 that attracted dozens of angry Westover residents, school officials expressed frustration that neighbors waited so long to voice their concerns.
Residents countered that they had raised objections during the planning process, but their objections had been ignored. This sounds like a familiar refrain. The County routinely justifies unpopular decisions by insisting that it sought public input and casting those who object as NIMBYs. Yet even without local opposition, the notion that tearing up a wooded lot is needed to install renewable energy is downright perverse.
It is also self defeating. The National Tree Benefit Calculator indicates that the loss of the 42-inch red maple and the 54-inch silver maple on the site, alone, will generate over 33,000 gallons of additional unintercepted storm water. The end result will be higher peak flood levels, such as the July 8 flash flood that inundated Westover Market across the street from Reed School.
The notion that the saplings APS will install at Reed School can replace mature trees is also not supported by the facts. A USDA Forest Service publication calculates that a 40-year-old red maple absorbs 11,577 gallons of water–almost 4 times the capacity of a 20-year-old red maple (Table A1, p. 64).
National statistics clearly correlate tree removal with runoff volume and flooding. How can County Board allow an educational institution dedicated to STEM curricula to disregard the very science that it is teaching?
If elected, I will insist on mature tree preservation as the first line of defense against future flood events. I will also:
- Say NO to more tax rate increases and a recently authorized County Board pay grab.
- Preserve green space and emphasize basic services like: streets, schools, libraries and public safety.
- Promote transparency by requiring publication of official documents at least 72 hours before board and commission meetings.
- Provide a voice on County Board for all taxpayers
As a 15-year Westover resident, long-time civic activist and current member of the Transportation Commission, I have both the experience and independence to promote these reforms.