By Samantha Smith
A 250-year-old, 53-inch wide heritage oak has a new lease on life after the Buda City Council Tuesday voted to save the tree by relocating it from the footprint of the city’s new municipal facility.
By a 6-1 vote, the Buda City Council voted to relocate the tree, with an amendment to relocate it to a location on-site of the new municipal facility, which has a price tag of $324,000. Council member David Nuckels cast the lone dissenting vote.
Council had tabled an agenda item regarding the tree at its last city council meeting. They directed city staff to try and find a funding source to relocate the heritage oak, which would cost the city upwards of $300,000.
Originally council was torn on whether to save the tree or repurpose it. After hearing from City Manager Kenneth Williams that funding could come from the general fund, in addition to fundraising and possible grant funding, council was more in favor to move the tree.
Buda Mayor Todd Ruge admitted that before the agenda item was presented he was not in favor of relocating the heritage oak, but the passion of residents and council changed his mind.
A couple of Buda residents were in attendance to advocate the relocation of the 250-year-old oak.
Longtime residents Josh Harper and Nancy Brinkley, who are also on the Historic Preservation Society, pleaded for council to see the ‘long term’ solution in relocating the tree.
“Trees in Central Texas don’t usually live that long,” Harper said.
Brinkley pleaded with council to save the heritage tree to help set a good example for the community now and in the future.
“These trees reinforce the culture of our community,” Brinkley said.
According to information presented to council at its previous meeting, the time frame for the tree’s relocation is somewhere between three weeks to a month.
Brian Hallot with HDR Engineering said the HDR construction team would move forward with council’s decision and the overall construction schedule would take about 13 months.