When it was just a seedling, the population of New Hanover County was about 7,000. Two hundred years later, and now at 60 inches in diameter, the Ogden Oak might have fallen victim to developers wanting to serve the needs of the county’s 220,000 residents. Instead, local officials commemorated the saving and relocation of the Ogden Oak on Friday, Sept. 15 at Ogden Marketplace.
“Halpern Enterprises is to be commended for their vision and the money and effort that they invested, on behalf of our community, in saving the Ogden Oak and preserving the other mature trees on the Publix property,” said Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo. “This is a great example of how many agencies can be on the same page to make something good happen. The City of Wilmington, New Hanover County, the North Carolina Department of Transportation, and the Wilmington Tree Commission worked together to achieve this important objective.”
Halpern hired Greg Connolly of Connolly Tree Preservation at the beginning of the project to care for the trees before, during and after construction.
“Their concern for these heritage trees was evident from the beginning,” said Connolly. “Halpern hired us as Certified Arborists to carefully brush mow to see what trees could be saved and not to damage then in the process. This is the most commitment I’ve seen from a commercial developer on a large project.”
Connolly was hired to attend to the trees for several years before development, using International Society of Arboriculture standards for pruning and fertilizing. Halpern invested $250,000 in the trees before the development was underway.
“In addition to continual pruning we’ve applied over 3500 gallons of well-balanced fertilizers so far, as well as mycorrhiza which helps colonize root hairs and aids in the absorption of nutrients and water”, said Connolly. “These trees are receiving the best care possible in order to mitigate any environmental stresses. We’ll be monitoring the impact on the root systems as the site work progresses, and Halpern’s hired us to care for the trees for another three years after construction, so we’ll be attending to them for a while. I’ve never seen the concern, time and expense that they’ve shown to these trees.”
Duke Energy Progress will be moving the utilities above and below the Ogden Oak in preparation for the relocation, and the NC DOT will be handling traffic management during the move. Environmental Designs of Texas will be doing the relocation, overseen by Connolly Tree Preservation, using their patented ArborLiftSystem – massive inflatable airbags to lift the tree while compressed air is used to free the root system from the dirt and transport the tree to its new location.
“It was important to us from the beginning to be good neighbors, good stewards of the environment, and to steer a collaborative effort to bring this project to the area in the very best way possible,” said Charles Worthen, partner in Halpern Enterprises. “Our thanks to everyone who helped make it possible.