TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Construction plans for upgrades to a middle school in the heart of the Rodgers Forge community are underway. But according the blueprints, workers are set to uproot several historic trees.
Gigi Barnett reports the community has rallied for weeks to change those plans and save their trees.
These mature trees have stood for at least a century, providing shade and design for the Rodgers Forge community in Baltimore County. But now "x" marks the spot. They're headed for the chopping block thanks to a long-needed, multi-million dollar renovation to Dumbarton Middle School.
"The kids have nowhere to go if this is all paved and these trees are taken out. This is our park," said Kevin Schwab, Rodgers Forge homeowner.
Homeowners say they want both: the school's upgrades and the trees.
For weeks, they've rallied, trying to get the school district to redraw its blueprints for a parking lot in the same spot where the trees stand.
So far, the school district hasn't budged. Even at the insistence of other county council members.
"I think people realize that some of the trees may have to come down. But they want them taken down very selectively and as few of the trees as possible," said David Marks, Baltimore County councilman.
Homeowners believe the trees are between 100 and 250 years old. And one of them was planted by famous Baltimore philanthropist Dr. Johns Hopkins.
"The school system said we'll protect that tree. But, as the plan stands right now, there's a road that goes straight through where the tree is," Schwab said.
Stu Sirota and Schwab are heading up the homeowners' group trying to save the trees. They say they were never given a chance to make suggestions on how to save them and that the county is swapping their public paradise for pavement.
"It's an excessive amount of paving that's just not necessary. We have ample parking here now," said Sirota, Rodgers Forge Community Association president.
So far, more than 500 homeowners and businesses have signed a petition asking county school leaders to change their blueprints and save these trees. If not, they say they'll take legal action.
The school system has a permit to remove 35 trees at Dumbarton Middle School. School leaders say they'll post any changes to the blueprints on their website this week.
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