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Camden County donates live oaks to Mayflower Restoration Project, receives criticism

According to the public record, many citizens support the Kingsland Bypass Project and only one comment mentioned preserving the trees.

As you drive down Laurel Island Parkway (preferably known as Colerain Rd to many) east of I-95, there is a lot of tree removal and clearing of vegetation to make way for the construction of the Kingsland Bypass Project. The project is expected to expand about 6 miles of roadway from Kings Bay Road toward I-95 on Laurel Island Parkway; however, there were about eight live oak trees that have been cut down to allow for this expansion on the east side of I-95 off Exit 6.

According to a Camden County press release, the eight live oak trees are to be donated to the Mayflower II Restoration Project and the trees have been cut down.  Since the County’s press release, several residents reached out to the county with great disapproval of cutting down the 150 plus year-old trees.  However, the public record shows that many people support the road project and one comment was given about tree removal along specific locations.

The only comment that about the preservation of trees along Laurel Island Parkway near Winding River Road, which is not the area where the eight live oaks were removed.

According to an April 2009 letter from Glenn Bowman, State Environmental/Location Engineer, to the County,  over forty people attended the Public Information Open House concerning the Kingsland Bypass Project. Twelve people gave comments supporting the project while there were none who commented in opposition.

Many of the written comments wanted to ensure bicycle path opportunities as well as other multi-use paths along the roadway. There was only one comment that discussed preserving as many trees as possible, but the location was west of the Winding River Road area. The multi-use paths are to be incorporated with Rails to Trails Corridor. The eight live oaks that were removed were toward the east side of I-95 near Exit 6.

According to a May 16, 2017 letter sent to County’s project coordinator, Scott Brazell, sent by the engineering company associated with the Kingsland Bypass Project, confirms that      “[i]n order to meet the GDOT and federal design standards for shoulder widths and clear zones, it was not possible to keep all the existing vegetation and the trees along Colerain Road.” 

According to GDOT, when the state has to make a determination to move forward, they review the public comments and proceed accordingly. Being that there was overwhelming support from the public during the early planning of the project, the state moved forward with the expansion project last month because the project had to meet many requirements due to federal funding.

May 16, 2017 letter describing the reason for the removal of the live oaks and the public comments referencing multi-use paths and removal of trees west of Winding River Rd.

View public comments by clicking HERE

“There are some beautiful, historic trees located along the Kingsland Bypass route,” said Camden County Administrator Steve Howard. “We were pleased to recently learn about a massive effort underway to restore and relaunch the Mayflower II by Plimoth Plantation. It’s an incredible opportunity for our historic oaks to live on and restore this ship.”

The Mayflower II Restoration project has been a multi-year restoration project to advance the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ arrival in Plymouth Massachusettes in 1620. The overall project is expected to cost $7.5 million dollars and is now well underway to the 106-foot long ship’s original construction using traditional methods to build. The original Mayflower II was built in 1955-1957 in England. Until 2019, the ship will be at Mystic Seaport receiving a full restoration ahead of Plymouth’s 400th commemoration of the Pilgrims’ arrival on New England’s shores.

According to the project’s website, the goal is to restore the Mayflower II to her original state. The Mayflower II is part of the Plimoth Plantation which an interactive “living history” museum to learn about the culture of the Native Americans, the Wampanoag People, along with the Colonial English people who interacted with the Wampanoag as newcomers in the New World.

Camden County citizen Gwendolyn Edenfield, who serves as Regent for the Earl of Camden Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, first approached county officials with the idea. “It is gratifying to be able to help in having some of the beautiful Colerain Road live oaks be used on the Mayflower II at Mystic Harbor, Connecticut,” said Edenfield.

County Manager, Steve Howard hopes that leaders of the Mayflower II Project will consider to bring the ship to St. Marys for a visit and bring tourism to downtown St. Marys much like the replicas of the Nina and Pinta.

Two of the eight live oaks cut down and donated to the Mayflower II Project


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