SUNNYVALE (KPIX 5) — A turf war is brewing in Sunnyvale between two old neighbors, the Heritage Park Museum and the Heritage Park Orchard over part of the city’s heritage.
“We are totally out of space,” said Laura Babcock, the Director of the museum.
She says the museum had to compact its technology exhibits into tiny wall cubicles, and its research area is only one cramped room.
It wants to expand out from its back wall, but that would doom about six perfectly healthy apricot trees.
“They would be cut down so that the footprint of the building would go there. Of course there are many places on the orchard where you could plant those trees, or new trees,” Babcock said.
But apricot grower Charlie Olson is fighting the plans.
“If you keep chipping away at the orchard, there is nothign left to farm,” Olson said.
The orchard is owned by the city of Sunnyvale, which bought it with the intent to preserve it for future generations.
Olson, 84, has farmed apricots and cherries in Sunnyvale since he was a kid. He was contracted to tend to the orchard and grow apricots.
“You have to speak up for the trees because they can’t speak for themselves,” Olson said.
The museum says only six out of 800 trees on the 10 acre plot would be lost. “There’s room for everyone here. It’s only a minute amount of trees,” Babcock said.
But Olson says the museum has been expanding every few years, and worries that it will continue, if he doesn’t speak up.
“We should keep it an orchard, because that’s what Sunnyvale started as,” Olson said.
The museums expansion proposal passed the Sunnyvale Parks Commision and now faces another hearing in the city council. The issue is expected to be decided sometime in August.