UT to Transplant Grand Oak Tree Beginning May 7

Tree Will Be Moved Approximately 400 Feet to Make Room for New Athletics Facility

Published: May 3, 2012
The University of Tampa has cleared much of what once stood on the site of the future Naimoli Family Athletic and Intramural Complex. Beginning May 7, however, the University plans to save and transplant a 65-foot oak tree, considered a “grand tree” by the city of Tampa.

“There’s really no non-invasive way to tell how old the tree is,” said Richard Bailey, the arborist for the project. “What we do know is this is a viable, mature tree, and it is an asset for the University. It will be here long after we’re gone.” With a stem (trunk) at 36 inches in diameter (three feet across), Bailey said the tree is one of the largest to be moved in Hillsborough County.

The tree is currently located next to North Gilchrist Avenue, between North A Street and West Kennedy Boulevard. It will be moved approximately 400 feet to a site north of West Kennedy Boulevard, just east of the train tracks and west of North Newport Avenue.

The University has hired Lake Worth, FL-based South Coast Grower to move the tree. Jon Bachmann, president of the company, has worked for several months to prepare the tree for the move. This process has involved pruning the tree’s estimated 70-foot canopy and carefully hand digging the root system over a period of three months in order to allow the tree to regrow a new root structure prior to relocating to its new home.

To move the tree, which Bachmann said may take up to two days, they will re-dig the trench around the tree’s root ball. Then, three to four feet below the tree, they will bore 12 inch holes and push steel I-beams into the holes. A steel sheet will go on top of the I-beams to provide support. A hydraulic jack will then lift the tree out of the ground and onto motorized dollies, which will drive it to the new site.

Bailey says he has worked with the University to develop a five-year maintenance plan once the tree is in its new home, which is planned to be a park-like area in the southwest corner of the new athletic facility.

Rick Ogorek, vice president of administration and finance, said this project is one example of the University’s commitment to sustainability. “This grand oak tree is a natural resource not only for the University, but for the city of Tampa,” he said. “Preserving it is an example of our commitment to providing green space for our students to enjoy.”

This tree is not the first that the University has moved. In 2000, UT relocated two 50-foot oak trees to make room for the Vaughn Center. The trees are still alive and thriving on the edge of the Plant Hall faculty-staff parking lot.

Scheduled for completion in December, the Naimoli Family Athletic and Intramural Complex will include an artificial turf multi-purpose field, 1,450-seat stadium and two spectator berms that will host numerous intramurals as well as the men’s and future women’s lacrosse teams.

For more information, contact Bailey at richardbaileypf@yahoo.com or (813) 689-3333, Bachmann at jonny@southcoastgrower.com or (800) 753-2034, or Bill Neyland, senior project manager, at bneyland@ut.edu or (813)-257-3265.