Construction is underway at Brentwood High School and Middle School following the passage of the school district’s Proposition B last year to update the buildings. In preparation for a roadway and parking lot in front of the high school several large trees were removed in July.
In conversations with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Lane, BHS alumnus Barry Williams said he and others tried to have the trees saved. He said they were “stunned and saddened” to see them removed. “For decades the BHS front lawn was a green and welcoming place,” Williams said. “Now it resembles a clear-cut forest or a war zone.”
Williams said the trees destroyed in July in front of the Brentwood High School were willow oaks. Each was 35-40 years old.
He said the Brentwood School District held a public forum on March 27, 2018 – a week before the April 3 Proposition B school bond-issue election. Lane heard from several voters who objected to removing all of the trees from the BHS front lawn and replace them with a roadway and parking lot. Lane said in response that he appreciated the feedback and would try to modify the plan to preserve as many trees and as much grass lawn as possible.
Williams said Lane appeared to reaffirm this in a September 2018 email reply to another BHS alumnus when he wrote: “I have been emphasizing with our architects that we want to keep as much green space and landscaping as possible.”
Since that March 2018 public forum, Williams said he and other alumni had been speaking with Lane on a regular basis about the need to save the trees and green space, and this included at least two meetings in Lane’s office.
They learned last fall that the school redesign plan would claim one of the three willow oaks, but the plan indicated the other two would not be disturbed and it was their understanding from Lane that these would remain.
“We therefore were stunned and saddened when a crew from the Happy Tree Service removed two of the three trees on Saturday, July 27. And we fear that unless the school district acts to protect the sole surviving tree, the nearby construction and excavation work will likely doom it, too,” Williams said in a recent email.
“We are baffled as to why a small walkable school district of less than two square miles needs to place so much emphasis on roads and cars and parking,” he said.
He said that when he and the others attended BHS in the 1960s-1970s, the school’s front lawn had no automobile parking whatsoever, and the school had significantly more students and teachers back then.
The Brentwood School District didn’t respond to requests for comment before this was published.