A group of retired teachers from New Taipei Municipal Chiang-Tsui Junior High School yesterday protested in front of the Presidential Office on Ketagalan Boulevard, calling on the government to save the trees on campus from a public construction project.
A team of volunteers consisting of local residents and retired teachers from the junior high school in Banciao (板橋) in New Taipei City (新北市) has banded together to protect an area of about 80 trees on campus that are said to be more than 30 to 40 years old.
Holding pictures of the trees, the protesters said that a New Taipei City project to build an indoor swimming pool and four floors of underground parking was proposed five years ago. Although residents have continually opposed the plan, they recently learned that the trees would be moved in August.
“This is the worst Mother’s Day gift to local residents,” said Huang Shu-mei (黃淑美), a retired teacher who has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years. “We are not against building a swimming pool, but the location chosen is inappropriate.”
She said the area has earned the nickname “Small Vienna Forrest” because of the dense green shade covering the area of about 1,000 ping (one ping is 3.3m2).
Not only do teachers and students enjoy having discussions or recreational activities in the cool shade, but many elderly residents also do their morning exercise there, she said.
“We want to swim in a sea of trees, rather than sacrifice dozens of old trees to build a swimming pool,” Huang added.
The protesters said there is already a private parking lot with more than 100 parking spaces in front of the school and an underground parking lot with 50 spaces below the recreation center on campus. They added that the parking lots often have spaces left open and a MRT station is not far from the school.
They urged the government to reconsider the project’s necessity and “to save the only piece of green land full of trees in the neighborhood for students and local residents.”
According to the project schedule, bidding will be held next month, the trees will be moved in August, and construction is expected to be completed in February 2015.