At the beginning of last week, grass dominated the landscape between Reed and Massasoit Halls. By the end of the week, new life had been infused in the previously dormant space. A portion of Springfield College’s campus underwent the beginning of a radical transformation, masterminded by President Richard B. Flynn, to restore the campus to its former state when 40 to 50 trees were planted in various areas, including the section between the two freshmen halls.
“We wanted to make a statement, really to our alums, that we’re bouncing back. We’re recovering from this tornado,” Flynn said. “So we picked out some areas that we felt were calling to us.”
Northern Tree Service, who is working with the college in the process, planted trees and shrubbery in areas including the section to the left of Alumni Hall and between Marsh Memorial, Alumni and the Administration Building.
Although this first planting barely scratches the 400 to 500 trees that were lost as a result of the June 1st tornado and the Halloween weekend Nor’easter, Flynn said that this replanting is only the beginning.
“The day that the tornado struck, we knew right then that we were going to have a tree planting campaign at some point in time,” Flynn said. “We had a plan [and] we’ve been working on a plan all summer.”
After the tornado, the Office of Development and Alumni Relations established a Spirit of Renewal Fund to raise money for tree replacement and landscaping, which are two areas that insurance did not cover.
After receiving money from fundraising, donations and gifts, Flynn and the school board put into action one of the first steps in a grander plan to restore the campus to its former beauty and upgrade it.
“Before the next semester is over, the plan will be there, and it will be then a matter of filling it in as money becomes available and as we prioritize,” Flynn said.
For now, Flynn, who has put a heavy emphasis on landscaping ever since he arrived at SC in 1999, is working to replace the massive amount of trees that were lost, many of which were centuries old.
“The landscaping of this campus is so important to the campus, and that’s why we wanted to bring it back to an admirable level as soon as possible,” Flynn said.
A sizable portion of the trees on campus were destroyed by the tornado, but perhaps the biggest setback came as a result of the October Nor’easter.
“The tornado wiped out all the trees behind Reed, Massasoit and most of Alumni, and many of the ones in the Naismith Green,” Flynn said. “The October snowstorm was not quite as selective.”
The snowstorm had a much broader effect on campus, weakening and wiping out trees and shrubbery all across campus.
Trees in particular serve more than just an aesthetic purpose. They also have many practical purposes according to Flynn, such as conservation, erosion, and providing increased levels of oxygen.
Flynn has taken the lead on replanting trees across campus because it is one of his interests. In fact, he has written a few books that included the subject. Bob McMaster, who according to Flynn is in charge of physical grounds, is also overseeing the selection and planting of trees with Flynn.
Flynn also stressed that any ideas and suggestions that students have in regards to the landscaping of the campus would be welcome.
Although it may seem like an unusual time of year to begin replanting trees, Flynn says that it was the perfect time for the types that were planted.
“You get them in the ground now, they’re dormant for the most part, they don’t need a lot of water right now, and you actually get a full season out of them,” he said.
The types of trees that have and will be planted in the future include a weeping beech, red maples, Japanese red maples, tupelo, balsam, white pine, Norwegian spruces, river birches, locust and pine trees.
The landscape will not replicate what the campus used to look like, but instead, will have an entirely new feel, as some trees are not being planted in the same spots where they were lost.
“We don’t necessarily need to plant a tree everywhere a tree was before because some of those trees were planted 125 years ago, before we even had some of the buildings we have,” Flynn said.
Although the trees will not be fully grown and much smaller-scaled than the full-grown trees that were destroyed, by planting them now, the college is preparing for the future.
“People here planted trees 100 to 150 years ago for this campus for you all to enjoy today. Part of what we’re doing today is planting trees that people 100 years from now are going to say, ‘Someone was thinking about this campus,’” Flynn said. “That’s what master planning is all about. Not only planning for a real quick fix, but really planning for the future.”
Joe Brown may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org