Community members rally to 'Save the Quarry Post Oak Tree'
Drivers on Mountain Creek Road might notice "Save the Quarry Post Oak" signs posted up and down the street.
The Quarry used to be a golf course, but since has been bought by Pratt Home Builders with the hopes of putting apartments and a new subdivision off Reads Lake Road.
For June Elliott she remembers a time before all of that. She moved to Reads Lake Road in the early 1950's.
"We grew up here on this road and there wasn't a lot of houses back then, so we used to play underneath the oak tree all the time," said Elliott.
She has lived next to the property with the post oak tree on it for more than six decades. The tree is the centerpiece of memories since the early 1950's.
"We were playing around the tree and we had our peanut butter sandwiches and go there and have picnics around it," said Elliott. "My children grew up here and they played and my grandchildren, and now they're wanting to cut it down and build all these houses here."
But it's more than just a sentimental fixture, the post oak stands at 112 feet tall. Tom Stebbins UT Extension Agent says this tree is unique to Mountain Creek.
"Because of it's height, because of it's history. Because the people in the neighborhood value that tree," said Stebbins.
Bob Geier who is a major part of the "Save the Quarry Post Oak" group says this tree is a treasure.
"It turns out that it's the tallest known example of it's species in the world," said Geier.
Now the tree is threatened by a new subdivision. The application with TDEC is attached below.
Pratt Home Builders owns the property where the subdivision would go. Channel 3 contacted Pratt Home Builders about these plans, but we were told "no comment."
In the document, it shows the plans for the neighborhood.
On the very last page of the application it does show a "tree protection detail." But when Channel 3 asked whether or not this would be to protect the post oak tree we were told, "no comment."
Bob Geier says the journey to save the tree started in 2018 after a community meeting about the development. He hopes not only to save the tree, but the property.
"This being the only park setting, recreation setting on this side of mountain creek it just seems like a better use of the property to not develop it densely," said Geier.
More than 2,000 people have signed a petition either online or on paper to preserve the quarry and save the post oak tree.
"We can have a park there or something for people to enjoy," said Elliott.
Bill Todd who lives in the area says that he's seen the area change in the last 16 years, with a surge of apartments and other developments. He says they need to save the tree.
"Specifically the tree I think is very important, it's a natural wonder," said Todd. "Again we believe the entire area should be preserved and not developed."
Ann Brown also lives in Hamilton County and she says this oak tree not only is historic, but by taking it down there could be consequences for the environment.
"So to it take down without any regard, this tree we need to think about something besides 15, 16 houses in a very small area," said Brown.
Barbara Dupree says they need to save the tree for future generations.
"It's part of the landscape so we need to save it," said Dupree.
The tree is also recognized by the Tennessee State Senate. Senate Joint Resolution No. 546 by Senators Bo Watson and Todd Gardenhire recognizes the tree as the tallest post oak tree in the United States.