An accelerated timetable means new trees should be in the ground along the restored, northern section of Middle Path in time for May 15-16 Commencement events.
Environmental Management, Inc., (EMI) will plant 50 trees — a mix of six oak species — along the restored portion of the path, from Brooklyn Street to Bexley Hall, beginning on May 4, Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman said.
If weather delays completion of the tree planting before Commencement, EMI will clean and clear the area of construction equipment and return to finish the project before Reunion Weekend on May 22-24, Director of Facility Operations Steve Arnett said.
The list of new trees for the path includes chestnut oak, chinkapin oak, northern pin oak, Shumard oak, overcup oak and swamp white oak — all stately, spreading trees that, when mature, will reach heights of about 50 feet or more. The longevity and strength of the oak trees is a reflection of the deep traditions and rich history of the College, said Neil Budzinski, an associate with the landscape architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc., of Cambridge, Massachusetts, which prepared a landscape master plan for Kenyon.
“These trees have the potential to span many generations of students and become a part of the campus history,” Budzinski said. “This subtle diversity confers ecological benefits not typically seen in an allee, which in its traditional form is a monoculture. Beyond that, the oaks provide winter interest through the dried leaves that tend to hang on the branches of oaks, and a rounded, spreading form that over time will create a wide reaching canopy over Middle Path.” Fall colors will include leaves of red and yellow.
After the tree planting, the three-year Middle Path restoration project will continue on May 26, from just south of the College Gates to the doorstep of Old Kenyon. The restoration is intended to improve universal access while preserving the look, feel and sound of the path. The project brings to the path a 10-inch, gravel-base layer under a 4-inch ribbon of stabilized granite gravel with a loose-gravel surface. A semi-permeable bonding agent is used to stabilize the gravel.
One tree along the south section of the path — at the northwest corner of the intersection of Middle Path and the walkway between Hanna and Leonard residence halls — has been removed in advance of the next phase of the path restoration. Four new trees will be planted. The College now counts 97 trees along the path in the new construction area.
The restoration work is expected to take 10 weeks, concluding at the end of July. As work progresses, beginning just south of the gates, wooden bridges will be built as east/west overpasses at four points. The finished path will require about three weeks to cure before foot traffic is allowed, Arnett said.
As part of the project, 15 replacement light poles and 14 replacement benches will be installed along the path.
The third phase of the restoration project, including the gates and moving north to Brooklyn Street, is planned for 2016.