Marrickville Council is planning an overhaul of historic Petersham Park in Petersham. I’ve done my best to translate the plans. There is a Legend on the side of the plans offering a range of symbols in various shades of green & one has to scroll around the map trying to find the symbols. It would be so much easier if there was list of what will be removed, replaced etc & any trees to be removed coloured red. Perhaps that would look too imposing, especially on this map. I apologize in advance if I have made a mistake translating the plans.
The Petersham Park Masterplan recommends –
- removing 8 of the 26 large Camphor laurel trees from the magnificent memorial avenue of trees that make the Brighton Street entrance.
- removing 4 of the 10 large Camphor laurels along Wentworth Street.
- removing 5 of the 7 large trees near the entry to the Fanny Durak Pool & the playground. That will mean another shadecloth structure. Council are removing these trees because the soil is compacted. Soil compaction can be treated without removing trees. Axing these trees is simply the most expedient option.
- removing 4 of the 12 large trees along Station Street.
- removing 2 other large trees inside the park.
- removing 7 of the 14 large trees from the boundary of West Street. Apart from
1 tree with significant dieback, I cannot see why these trees need to be removed. They have been badly pruned, but so have the majority of the trees in the park. Most look like champagne glasses because of Council’s long-standing policy of pruning all side branches. The plans recommend not replacing trees along West Street to offer unrestricted visual access into the park. Unrestricted for who? The third storey across the road? Whether on foot or in a car you can easily see into Petersham Park. No substantial trees will also ensure that the traffic noise from ultra-busy West Street would fully infiltrate the park.
- If I understand the Legend correctly, the ultimate recommendation is to remove all the trees along West Street. If that is correct, the remaining side of the once glorious avenue of trees will be lost. (Last January 2011 St Vincent de Paul Society completed the removal of 31 trees that formed the other side of the avenue of trees. See – http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/the-lost-trees-of-lewisham/ )
- All up 30 very large trees are to be removed.
- 38 new trees are to be planted. Sounds great, except they will be small stature ornamental Crepe myrtle & Cape Chestnut trees. Many new tree plantings fail so even whether these 38 trees survive remains to be seen. Figs & large Eucalypts have been suggested for the Brighton & Wentworth Street as replacement for the trees removed in these sections.
- Cape Chestnuts & Crepe Myrtles are to be planted in the space between West Street & the oval to offer colour. I am rather horrified that Crepe myrtle trees are popping up across Marrickville LGA when there are many better choices of small native trees that offer colour as well as food for wildlife.
- Very small spaces will be planted with groundcover for Bandicoot habitat where trees have been removed on West Street. Although habitat for the critically endangered Long-nosed Bandicoot is of paramount importance, especially now that their habitat across the road at St Vincent de Paul Society has been destroyed, the size of the proposed habitat is tokenistic at best & keeps the Bandicoots near the very busy road.
- Council also plans to upgrade the playground, repair the stonework, repair the paths, add some lighting, add some garden beds, replant the existing garden beds & add a decorative picket fence to part of the Brighton Street entry – all good.
There are many wonderful things about Petersham Park. It is remarkably different from most parks in Marrickville LGA in that it has many very large trees as well as large shade-producing trees throughout the park itself, not just around the perimeter. Removing so many large trees at one time would be devastating. To remove half of the trees on West Street only to replace with groundcover & add some Crepe myrtles further in would to my mind, reduce this side of the park to ‘ordinary.’
I know parks have to be maintained & Petersham Park, even for its beauty is showing signs of neglect, but in my opinion, the bulk of the large mature trees are doing well. The paths, the playground & the garden beds are what needs work & yes, some trees need to be removed, but I wonder about the choices of trees. The Prunus looks scraggly & a couple of Fig trees look quite weird & unhealthy. I could have removed 20 trees, however, only 1 of those trees matched the trees Council is recommending for removal.
It’s obvious that some trees are to be removed simply because they are mature or that removing the trees will allow for the new fashion of having clear unobstructed views deep into parks. To me, that’s not a good enough reason to remove healthy mature trees which are doing great work in sequestering large amounts of CO2, removing particulate matter, improving air quality as well as providing shade & beauty to the area. Mature doesn’t mean dying.
There are dead street trees all over Marrickville LGA, some that have been sitting there for 18 months or more. Then there is the borer infestation of Mahoney Reserve & the 6 dead
Poplar trees that are still standing. These things make me wonder why so much money will be spent removing so many trees in Petersham Park when very few of them are showing obvious signs of deterioration. They are mature trees & for that very reason, quite spectacular. I’d rather the dead & dying trees elsewhere be removed than 30 mature beautiful trees from the one park. Council needs to start to grow replacement trees (further in the park if they are to be Fig trees to allow for the canopy) & when they have grown to a decent size, only then do a graduated removal of the other trees.
I recognize that Marrickville Council wants to do the best thing for the park & it is good that community consultation was offered. However, the plans for Petersham Park remind me of the intention in the draft tree strategy policy that was so poorly received by Councillors in early 2010 & which has been redrafted. That report spoke negatively about mature trees & proposed cutting down 1,000 trees per year for 5 years. Is Council still pursuing this kind of goal?
Any written feedback to Marrickville Council from the community is due by 28th February 2011. The plan can be downloaded here (5MB) – http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/getinvolved/consultations/petershamparkmasterplan.html?s=2122293019
I made a video of Petersham Park here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIKH59R7BnE