Another important part of Centre County history is gone.
Without any prior notice or for sale sign, the lot containing a 300-year-old burr oak tree with a national historic designation was sold, and the tree cut down June 30. The corporation that owns the property is SOASOAS Partnership, whose principals are Andrew Garban and John and Karen Conroy, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State and county Recorder of Deeds. It was at the entrance of Glenn Park on Shady Drive, in College Township, and was an important part of stormwater mitigation as well as home to lots of wildlife. The lot has several springs, a perfect habitat for a burr oak, which needs lots of water.
College Township made an offer to purchase the lot several years ago, but it was refused. Neighbors, had they known the property was for sale would have bought it immediately, and were willing to explore having it maintained with judicious pruning and perhaps cabling. Trees at the Centre Furnace Mansion, of about the same vintage, have had this work done to help preserve them.
Historic trees take maintenance, which is often expensive but worth it if one looks at the bigger picture of trees that benefit a neighborhood, or people who value history. College Township and the Centre Region need ordinances that protect historic trees, buildings and landscapes. They cannot speak for themselves; we must do it for them. There will be a discussion of these ordinances at the Township Council meeting, at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Ron and Sue Smith