During its Tuesday meeting, Buda City Council voted to relocate a historic oak tree that otherwise would have been destroyed to make way for the future Buda Municipal Complex, located on the corner of Main and East Loop streets.
The tree is currently within the footprint of the proposed public safety facility. Under the city’s development code, certain tree species greater than 20 inches in diameter are classified as “heritage trees” and are afforded special protections.
The potential cost of moving and maintaining the tree in addition to changes to building design and construction as a result total to about $324,000. The city can accept private donations toward the effort and will look into grants or using the city’s hotel occupancy tax to help pay for the project, Williams said.
The oak will be moved to the southeast portion of the lot, near Main Street.
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Historic Preservation Commission Member Josh Harper said the tree is probably around 260 years old.
“The tree was 21 years old when the Declaration of Independence was signed. It was 69 when Texas became a state,” Harper said. “It was 192 when Buda was incorporated, and it will be here long after us if we move it.”
Trees in other places, such as New Orleans, can last for 600 to 800 years, he said, but trees typically do not last that long in Central Texas because there is less water. By moving the tree to a place with a better water supply and drainage, the city could actually help it live longer than it would at its existing location, Harper said.
“We’re spending a lot of money on the complex,” Harper said. “Let’s spend a little bit more and do what residents want.”
The council voted 6-1 to relocate the tree, with Place 3 Council Member David Nuckels casting the lone dissenting vote.
Mayor Todd Ruge was pleasantly surprised that the tree could be preserved.
“I was really thinking we’d have to cut that tree down,” he said.
The Buda Municipal Complex will consist of two buildings, the municipal facility and the public safety building. Both are part of a $55 million bond approved by Buda voters in November 2014. The municipal facility will hold the library, city administrative offices and chambers, and the public safety building will house the police department. The project is expected to be completed in 2018.