Tank Ash Tree Felled for Safety
The giant ash tree that graced the Tank Hall lawn for 130 years was felled by Barnes Nursery last month. Dating back to the house’s earliest days as an orphanage, the tree witnessed many fires, parties and dinners in its lifetime.
“No more shade, no more swing, no more rustling leaves,” lamented Tank Housing Loose-Ends Coordinator and College senior Kyla Neilan.
Sentiments in the co-op are nostalgic and remorseful. “That tree, knotty and gnarled as it was, had an unbelievable charisma,” said former Tank member Jeff Hagan, OC ’84.
Still, reason had to overcome sentiment. In July of 1995, Bill Salo, then the college grounds manager, and Rahel Smith, OSCA’s housing coordinator at the time, decided that the tree could safely exist for only another decade, given that it was already showing signs of rot.
Because Dennis Greive, the current College grounds manager, announced the original tree’s “obvious decline,” arborist Alan Klonowski was brought in last November to evaluate the problem and devise a plan of action. According to Klowonski, “Decay, rot and insect activity in the tree were reducing its structural integrity.” Declaring deterioration as “inevitable,” Klonowski concluded that “removal [was] the most practical option.”
Greive noted, “Ash is, by nature, brittle and in danger of snapping off and coming down.” With Tankers’ and their guests’ safety in mind, Greive attended an International Society of Arboriculture conference last February in Columbus where he presented photos of the tree. Arborists and biologists concurred that the tree was in trouble and posed a danger to nearby students.
“It needed to come down in May, but we wanted to wait until communication with OSCA became available again,” commented Director of Facilities Operations Keith Watkins. Wanting co-opers to be around for the final days of the tree and fearing a potential battle with OSCA, Watkins contacted OSCA Housing Coordinator and College junior John Siddall to discuss courses of action.
Siddall believed that waiting for school to begin before felling the tree “posed a greater risk to people in the area.” Siddall advised Watkins to “get it done ASAP.”
The day after Siddall spoke to Watkins, the tree came down. “The impact from the trunk hitting the ground could be felt throughout the house, and from where I was the floor noticeably shook,” said Siddall.
The giant ash limbs were diced and turned into wood chips that will be put to use by OSCA. Local Amish craftsmen will carve the trunk of the tree into a dining table for Tank. It is a fitting role reversal that food will now be served on wood that has for so many years seen student-made lunches beneath its branches.
In 2000, a new ash tree, which has since tripled in size, was planted 50 feet west of the original ash. Since then, the grounds manager has overseen two separate prunings of the tree in order to prolong its life and vibrancy.