I was driving down Black Oak Drive on the way to Rogue Valley Manor the other day and noticed the magnificent trees in front of St. Mary's School are gone. Can anyone in Since You Asked land enlighten me why those old trees are gone?

— Marci R., Medford

 

You weren't the only one to notice the disappearing trees.

The 50-year-old gym looks rather naked sans the pair of Deodar cedars that have shaded the northeast end of the St. Mary's campus for decades.

The cedars, felled last Friday and Saturday, are but two of many trees that are going away as St. Mary's remodels and upgrades its campus this year.

Chief Operating Officer Chris Johnson, who doubles as the middle school vice principal, said that 11 sequoias planted in the heart of the campus when the school was built in 1962 will go away, as well.

"The removal of the cedars is the first part of a pretty extensive building project," Johnson said.

It's a $10 million project, including a two-story residence hall, two-story student commons, cafeteria, and a science, technology, engineering and math center (that's STEM for those who need more acronyms in their lives).

"A lot of the wood was salvaged as firewood, and the rest was chipped on site by the contractor," Johnson said. "The sequoias will come down in June. Our goal is to incorporate some of the lumber from them into the new buildings, probably as outdoor furniture."

While the cedars were in the way of a stormwater runoff pond, the towering sequoias present other issues.

"The root system and the shading are going to impact the new courtyard in front of the commons," Johnson said. "Also, a couple of them are leaning hazardously over an existing building and growing dangerously close to an electrical supply for part of the campus."

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.