O'Hara Park goes green

Photo courtesy of Melissa Mastrangelo

Terracare Associates recently donated trees, plants and labor to refresh portions of the O’Hara Park Middle School campus. The landscaper has donated various projects to schools in East County.

One landscaper has staked roots in the community and the results are blossoming.

Terracare Associates’ trucks are often seen cruising the streets of East County as the landscaping professionals tend municipal greenery, but it’s the company’s community investment program that has school officials, students and grateful parents taking note. Its most recent effort to help breathe green life into the campus of O’Hara Park Middle School involved not only new trees but the plans, labor and additional plants to brighten the ground with color.

“Some of the older trees had to come down at the front of our campus, because the large roots were lifting the sidewalks and it had become a tripping hazard,” said Melissa Mastrangelo, a parent and paraprofressional at O’Hara. “The school district had to remove them, but the problem with that area where the children wait for buses is that there was no more shade, and it’s sometimes 100 degrees in the afternoon.”

Having previously connected with the landscaper in 2014, when the company constructed a campus garden for the life science and special needs classes to plant, grow and harvest crops, Mastrangelo turned to her contact at Terracare, Francisco Quintero, account manager for Brentwood and Oakley, to see if something could be done to help beautify the area and provide shade without destroying the walking path.

“I asked him if it was possible for them to help them with the front portion of their campus,” she said.

Mastrangelo and Quintero, along with Charlie Aubert, director of facilities for Oakley Union Elementary School District (OUESD) and O’Hara Principal Holly Rocha, then met to discuss plans.

“He drew up plans and presented them, and it included a drip system with a timer and two trees in the front elevation and one in the grassy area,” Mastrangelo said. “They would also remove the stumps, put in soil and also lantana to fill in over the bark, which provides color and a nice backdrop. The trees are not only beautiful but they provide shade and reprieve and the lantana that they chose goes along with our school colors. The kids take pride in their campus when it’s beautiful.”

Quintero and his Terracare team donated planted two crape myrtle muskogee trees, one chitalpa pink dawn tree, 42 1-gallow red camara lantana plants for groundcover and 5 yards of bark in addition to labor.

“We are so honored for Terracare and their endless contributions to the O’Hara Park School community,” said Rocha. “The latest project is another example of their generosity. We are excited about our new exterior facelift. Not only is it inviting, it represents the culture of our community.”

In other outreach, the company has donated to Adams Middle School, Excelsior Middle School, Freedom High School and Liberty High School.

“It is awesome that local businesses are willing and able to partner and support our schools. Terracare exemplifies that partnership,” OUESD Superintendent Greg Hetrick said. “Thank you, Terracare. Working together, we do make a difference.”