Doomed trees find new life in borough parks

By on April 13, 2016
Photo by Laura Knowles The Lititz tree team that saved some of the oaks and maples from a former nursery includes (left to right) George Biemesderfer, Gary Gaissert and Jennifer Lee.

The Lititz tree team that saved some of the oaks and maples from a former nursery includes (left to right) George Biemesderfer, Gary Gaissert and Jennifer Lee. Photo by Laura Knowles.

The former Green Acres Nursery, located at the western edge of the borough, was abundant with maples, oaks, spruce, elm, birch and many other trees.

When Moravian Manor, one of Lititz’s growing retirement facilities, purchased the 72-acre parcel for its Warwick Woodlands development, about 500 of those trees were put on the chopping block, destined to be uprooted and discarded as part of the upcoming project.

Through a fortuitous twist of fate, the nursery was once owned by George Biemesderfer, who happens to be a longtime member of the Lititz Shade Tree Commission. Early last summer, Biemesderfer and Jennifer Lee, also of the shade tree commission, presented a proposal for the replanting of trees throughout the borough.

That gave Gary Gaissert, vice president of operations at Moravian Manor, an idea. Could some of the trees from the old nursery be donated to the borough and then planted in local parks and along waterways and stream beds?

Trees that might otherwise go to waste would have a new home, arranged by the same man who planted them years ago.

“So, I decided to approach Lititz Borough after I heard about the need for shade trees,” said Gaissert.

Both Biemesderfer and Lee were on board.

Lee, a shade tree commission member since 2004, is also a senior project manager and associate at Derck & Edson, a local planning and design firm with offices in downtown Lititz. She graduated from Virginia Tech in 1997 with a bachelors degree in landscape architecture.

According to Biemesderfer, Lee was the ideal person to determine where the trees should be planted. She worked on plans for placing some of the trees in New Street Park, which is currently undergoing improvements. She also looked at Spruce Street Park (commonly known as Lions Park) as a location in need of trees.

“Many of the trees remaining on the Warwick Woodlands site are very large, so size is a major consideration,” Lee explained. “In order to transplant the trees, we needed to find specimens that were small enough to move.”

Lee then needed to determine which pin oaks, American hollies, paperbark maples and other trees could successfully be replanted in the borough’s parks.

“This is a good solution for these trees,” said Biemesderfer.

Because they are too big for residential properties, the trees will only be used in borough-owned parks. Lititz Springs Park is privately-owned by the Moravian Congregation, and operated by the Lititz Springs Park Board, so it appears unlikely that any of these trees will be planted there.

The borough has four official public parks. In addition to New and Spruce streets, Lititz designates its community pool as a park, and then there is Butterfly Acres Linear Park near Sixth Street.

Biemesderfer is happy to know that trees from his former nursery will have a new life. One of his favorite quotes, by Winston Churchill, is, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

Meanwhile, Lee is busy determining exactly where to replant about a dozen of these trees.

“We need to choose trees that would work within the context of the park,” she said.

Gaissert calls it a “win-win” situation.

“Moravian Manor’s board of directors and management staff’s philosophy of being a community within a community was the driving force behind this idea,” he said. “We strive to be responsible neighbors as we work side by side with borough officials toward the mutual goal of positioning Moravian Manor as a relevant partner in this close-knit Lititz community.”

He reports that Warwick Woodlands is being planned using a Traditional Neighborhood Design concept, and is one of the first retirement communities to utilize the design that is intended to bring together people, businesses and the energy of small town living.

The project is basically divided into three phases, Gaissert added. Phase one will include 10 town homes, 70 carriage homes, and a 56-unit apartment building. Future phases include a combination of additional carriage homes and some mixed use buildings.

He also said Moravian Manor hopes to incorporate approximately 100 trees into its final project landscape design for Warwick Woodlands.

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