Residents alarmed at plan to cut down trees at Lady's Island Elementary

Students at Lady's Island Elementary School could have fewer trees on their playground, as officials consider cutting them down for safety reasons.

Twenty-one trees are being looked at, although the most concerning ones are gumball trees near the playground, school district facilities director Robert Oetting said.

That has a group of residents alarmed.

"Why can't we just keep the trees?" said Shelia Bennett. "For me, they're educational and provide shade for the kids instead of just a deck with a tarp."

Oetting said roots are coming up into the play area, creating a tripping hazard for children. No decisions have been made, and officials are working with the concerned residents about the issue, he said.

Bennett said she wants a public meeting, because no parents she has spoken with at the school know that removing the trees is being considered. Many of them were planted a decade ago, when the Bennetts had a daughter attending the school. The family helped with the planting and stopped by to water the saplings every other day for years.

"When we planted those trees back then, the teachers used them for class for science to teach about photosynthesis," Bennett said. "And those kids were so respectful of the trees."

If a tree is a hazard, then it should be cut down, she added. But not all of them have to go, and the reasons for tree removal should be clear.

"If it looks like it's going to cause a problem with their very expensive rubber pad they put down, then yeah, that has to go, but leave the rest of them alone," Bennett said.

Oetting said the school district would comply with county regulations for cutting trees, and any federal standards that apply.

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