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[whitespace] Dr. Art Anderson has crafted bowls from the controversial eucalyptus tree that came down at the Saratoga School recently

Saratoga--Saratogan Arthur Anderson is a doctor; therefore he likes to heal. After one of the two large Eucalyptus trees at Saratoga School was felled on May 3, Anderson had an idea that he hopes will start the healing process in Saratoga.

Over the past two years the trees have caused divisions in the community, which began in the summer of 1998. An architect's plans for the expansion of the school included removing both large eucalyptus trees for safety reasons and to make a larger playing field. The fate of the trees sparked nine months of debate between Saratoga Union School district board members, community members, the city council and parents.

The tree felling in May caused an uproar in the city, and members of the city council were especially distraught. According to a cooperation agreement the SUSD made with the city on June 4, 1999, the SUSD was to forward a copy of the arborist's report to the city before any trees were cut. The SUSD was to then schedule a public hearing on the matter at a regular SUSD board meeting. The hearing was to be scheduled at least three weeks in advance to allow the city time to review the arborist's report.

But the district overlooked all obligations to the city when the tree was felled on May 3. The city never saw the report, nor was there a public hearing.

Anderson, who lives near the school, immediately went down to the site and salvaged a few of the fallen tree's branches, as well as a large slab of the trunk measuring about six feet in diameter and six inches thick.

Anderson, who does "wood-turning" as a hobby, turned two bowls from the tree's branches. One is a very simple bowl, similar to a cereal bowl, and the other is more decorative and ornate.

Anderson gave the two hand-made bowls to Superintendent Mary Gardner, who plans to display them in a prominent glass case in Saratoga School. The school is still under renovation and construction, but is expected to be complete by October, Gardner said. They plan to have a grand opening celebration.

The slab that Anderson salvaged is being stored and dried by the SUSD's groundskeeper, Paul Tipton. The slab should take about two years to be properly dried and sealed. It will be used for educational purposes, according to Gardner, but it has not been determined in exactly what way.

Some ideas have been to use the slab in lessons about tree rings, or to mount the slab in a prominent place with the history of Saratoga School outlined in its growth rings, as is commonly done with redwood trees in many parks.

The city and the SUSD are holding a joint public meeting to discuss the school board's oversight on July 11. Meanwhile, Anderson hopes that his ideas will begin to heal some of the community divisions.

"It was a very generous thing for him to do," Gardner said. "But I'm not sure it's going to satisfy those people who wanted the tree."
Leigh Ann Maze

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