Losing our roots
by Lance Davis / SPORTS WRITER
Feb 07, 2013 | 2505 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Toomer’s Oaks were allegedly poisoined by Harvey Updyke Jr. after the 2010 Iron Bowl. (Katherine McCahey / ASSISTANT PHOTO EDITOR)
The Toomer’s Oaks were allegedly poisoined by Harvey Updyke Jr. after the 2010 Iron Bowl. (Katherine McCahey / ASSISTANT PHOTO EDITOR)
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The University announced Friday, Feb. 1 plans to remove the beloved poisoned oak trees at Toomer’s Corner.

Despite repeated efforts to save the trees, the possibility of their survival has been in question since the poisoning was discovered in January of 2011.

A date has not been set for the trees’ removal.

According to the press release, the University and the city of Auburn will host a “Celebrate the Tradition” block party featuring live music at Toomer’s Corner after the A-Day football game Saturday, April 20. The block party will provide fans with one last opportunity to roll and photograph the trees before they are removed.

“While I will be very sad to see the trees go and to see the end of an era of one of our greatest traditions, I think that A-Day serves as a great opportunity for us to celebrate the history associated with the oaks at Toomer’s Corner one last time before we move into the next stage of this tradition,” SGA President Owen Parrish said.

The University will also announce its future landscaping plans for Toomer’s Corner at A-Day.

More than 10,000 people voted in an online survey conducted by Auburn University and landscape architecture firms Nelson Byrd Woltz and jB+a for various plans to redevelop the famous corner .

“The architects are combining their expertise and experience with the terrific input from the Auburn Family to come up with a future plan that we will all be proud of,” said Dan King, assistant vice president of facilities management.

The survey featured four possible landscaping schemes for the Toomer’s Oaks area and the area extending into Samford Park.

Auburn will decide what to do with the area after it analyzes the data. It is possible that one specific scheme is chosen, but it is also possible that multiple features from different schemes are combined into one.

“They don’t really know yet, because they’re really interested in seeing what 10,000 people thought,” said Debbie Shaw, vice president of alumni affairs.

“If one was significantly the favorite, then I’d say they may pick that one. You kind of just have to wait and see.”

Auburn intends to create structures at the intersection of College Street and Magnolia Avenue that can be rolled once the trees are gone.

Fans will be encouraged to roll these structures after football wins and other occasions.

“We want people to be upbeat about the future of this area,” Shaw said. “Rolling the corner is a uniquely Auburn tradition, and whether we roll trees or other structures, the camaraderie and sense of togetherness is part of what makes Auburn a special place.”

Shaw and Susan Smith, director of trademark licensing, are working to come up with products made from the wood of the trees to be sold to the public. The profit will go toward scholarships.

“We know we want to offer a lot of different price points,” Shaw said. “Some items may be more expensive, but then some are going to be very reasonable for anybody.”

Shaw and Smith haven’t decided on what type of products will be offered, but they have some ideas.

“It’ll probably range from a framed picture that’s got a piece of the wood in it with a special plaque,” Shaw said. “We may have paperweights out of the wood. We may have bowls. We’re just looking at a lot of different products.”

Auburn is installing high-resolution cameras in various locations surrounding the Toomer’s Oaks. The cameras will be up by the end of the week.

“Some very special high-resolution cameras are being placed in areas that will film around the

tree,” Shaw said. “You’ve probably seen those old grainy films. Well, no longer. These cameras are much higher resolution.”

Vandalism was a cause for concern for the university in deciding when to announce the trees’ imminent removal.

“We talked a lot about that because there were a lot of reasons we didn’t want to announce it this early,” Shaw said. “We do have some concerns that some people might try to vandalize the tree.”
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