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Dozens protest Jackson ISD decision to remove centuries-old trees for parking lot expansion

Dozens protest Jackson ISD decision to remove centuries-old trees for parking lot expansionDozens protest Jackson ISD decision to remove centuries-old trees for
Published: Mar. 15, 2022 at 10:24 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 15, 2022 at 11:08 PM EDT
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JACKSON, Mich. (WILX) - Several centuries-old trees will be removed in Jackson to expand a parking lot.

The plan is to remove three trees, two of which are nearly 300 years old.

The decision was made by the Jackson Intermediate School District Board. The trees will be cut down to pave a driveway for buses and new spaces in a parking lot in front of the former Frost Elementary School, which will be transformed into a school for students with special needs.

The removal of the trees did not come without a fight from people in the community. Tensions were high at a Tuesday night meeting with dozens of residents protesting the decision.

“I do feel that we’re going to lose the whole grove,” said Kathryn Keersmaekers.

Keersmaekers has done a lot of research and she believes the two biggest trees are Mother Trees, which provide nourishment to the other trees surrounding them. Generally, that means those trees will also die.

“If they go down, the rest of the grove may go down as well,” Keersmaekers said.

The original plan for the school called for the removal of nine trees. However, people in Jackson let their concerns be heard and the district created a new plan, which took out less trees as a compromise.

Jackson Jackson County Intermediate superintendent Kevin Oxley said he feels like they’ve done all they can.

“I think we’ve done everything we can to look at it,” Oxley said. “I think our board is very deliberative, wanting to be fair to everybody, but also make sure the tax payer dollars available for this project are spent in the best manner possible.”

Even though the plan is to take out the trees, part of the motion that passed included hiring foresters as consultants in an attempt to preserve the rest of the vegetation.

It has not been decided when the trees will be removed, but officials hope to start construction as soon as possible.

More: Jackson news

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