Editor: Arlington Public Schools soon will be razing the relatively new Reed School building to construct a newer school, the planned four-story building unprecedented in the quiet residential neighborhood of Westover.

During the planning process, the local civic associations insisted that the massive new edifice conform, more or less, to the footprint of the current building. But plans for the new school show that the western corner of the property, behind 19th Street North and North Madison Street, will be virtually denuded of its majestic tree canopy.

APS will be destroying 40-plus trees on the entire site, with the promise to plant little new ones, primarily around the new staff parking lots. They are planning to pretty much clear-cut the massive trees – healthy, mature, beautiful and home to many kinds of fauna –  well away from the construction, and not replace them.

The loss of this precious green resource will be irrevocable.  

Behind my house alone, a dozen massive, healthy, mature trees will be chopped down, with no plans to reforest the hill, which will now be susceptible to erosion above the floodplain so terribly wild and out of control in recent storms.

(During last month’s crippling storm, we all witnessed the devastation in Westover: the playing fields flooded, the building’s summer school evacuated, nearby roads buckling, the pavement shifting.)

It is a bucolic spot for picnicking, reading, kite-flying, tree-climbing. One boy from Swanson Middle School arrives after school, stretches out his rope and tight-rope-walks between the trees. Any day of the week, you will find Arlingtonians of all ages availing themselves of the shade and peace.

The new school’s (2021 opening) population of over 750 young children plus staff will benefit much more from a leafy haven than from a barren, dirt-covered hill with no roots to hold the soil and no protection from the elements.

I have lived in Arlington since 1972, and feel virtually helpless to stop the carnage from which there will be no recovery. My little voice will be bulldozed, but the hill’s big trees, not in the way of the new building, deserve to be saved.

Catherine Dowling, Arlington

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