Absent: Clr Iskandar. The following Is my understanding of the meeting & all mistakes are mine. To reduce the length of this post I will mostly remove “he said/she said” with the comments coming after the speaker’s name.
Question on Notice: Council costs associated with the boycott of Israel – 3 residents, who identified as Jewish, spoke against the BDS & asked Council to reconsider the boycott. In summary, they said the BDS is a one-sided policy with no
instances of inclusion, co-operation or serious desire for peace. It divides our community with the Aboriginal & Jewish community feeling excluded & like second-class citizens. Council should instead do peace projects & volunteer dental programs as examples & share our religious festivals. One speaker said, I do get offended when people say that unless you believe in the BDS you don’t believe in social justice. With the BDS, you are against social justice. A local school has decided to boycott Marrickville Council activities. One speaker asked, are we really debating middle-eastern politics in Marrickville Council? Another, Do you want to be the generation of Councillors to cause division in the community?
2 residents, 1 who identified as Jewish, spoke in support of the BDS saying it’s causing discussion in our community & is a peaceful boycott. It doesn’t target Israeli people, rather Israeli state policies. Israel is consistent in defying international law & there are Australians who think that Palestinians deserve a fair go. It’s sad that so many Jews can’t support Palestinian human rights. The Jews are not under threat. It’s not about anti-Semitism or excluding Jews, it’s about human rights. Because it was a Question on Notice, Councillors did not debate.
Leasing the Coptic Church Tempe - There were 2 applicants: The Anglican Catholic Church Original Province & The Coptic Orthodox Church Heritage Trust. The Bishop for the Australian & NZ Anglican Church spoke: 3-years ago we asked Council if we could hire the Coptic Church. He spoke about the use of the church for the community with 45% of the church’s communicants being under 18-years of age. This centre is important because it’s at the gateway to Australia. The second speaker from The Coptic Orthodox Church Heritage Trust arrived late so did not speak. The old Coptic Church now gets a new lease of life with Council deciding which of the 2 applicants will use the site.
Rescission Motion against a new park for Marrickville: Clrs Tsardoulias, Iskandar & Macri put in a Rescission Motion (RM) to stop staff looking into the feasibility of a park in front of the planned new library at the corner of Marrickville & Livingstone Roads Marrickville. The space is currently a car park & a green area with many large trees. See – http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/12/23/3-marrickville-councillors-are-trying-to-prevent-a-new-park/ I spoke against the RM.
Clr Tsardoulias: Supporting the RM. The Greens delayed the building for 6-years. Council have spent thousands on the Masterplan & to do the park we will give away affordable housing.
Clr Thanos: Opposing the RM. The delay wasn’t caused by the Greens. The assessment of the space showed that it would need a 10-storey building to have both the library & the Civic Centre there. I proposed an 11-storey building that wasn’t supported. Now Council has to decide whether the library or the Civic centre goes there. We should not stack the site with buildings. We should maintain some green space. People are always telling me it’s needed. We would be the only Council in the last 50-years that can deliver a park & it will be very difficult to do this in the future. The motion was to check the feasibility for this.
Clr Phillips: Opposing the RM. Astounded that Clr Tsardoulias thought he was shut down in the debate as the Mayor put up an extraordinary Council Meeting that no-one, but the Greens attended. Here we are talking about a 9-storey building on a unique piece of land some way from the Cooks River. We have the lowest green space in Australia. It will be a great gateway to the new library & it’s a good thing for the community.
Clr Wright: Supporting the RM. Great concern about process. We have spent time & money & the Masterplan has been devised. If you remove 1 aspect, all aspects are up for option. It’s an opportunistic & ad hoc approach to delivering a park. A corner is not a good location for a park & it’s on the library’s back side.
Clr Olive: Opposing the RM. Clr Tsardoulias alleges that the Greens have delayed this for 6 years, the Greens have only had decision making powers for 1 year over the past 6 years. Clr Tsardoulias delayed this by his RM & asked that a report be put in by February, but your RM stopped staff from working on this. A park on a corner is a good outcome. It’s not an ad hoc process. The Greens were consistent in the LEP discussion. We thought large buildings were unacceptable to the community. Including a park is viable.
Clr O’Sullivan: Supporting the RM. It’s not the best place for a park. It’s a busy road. Seems there is an obsession with height & some of the Greens councilors would have had a protest about St Bridget’s tower. This is the 5th or 6th consultancy of this & the key things the Greens always leave out are integrated planning & issues of design. Stick with what we have got & build low-income homes in the centre of the city.
Clr Macri: Supporting the RM. Residents are upset at the amount of time this site has remained idle. We were looking at the hospital building as the library so open space would have been on the Lilydale Street side. It’s not aesthetically pleasing on a busy corner. We take trees down as it suits us – 48 were removed for the Enmore Pool. We have an LEP, no-one has said anything about increasing space for a park. I don’t want things unused & people & children so close to traffic.
Clr Hanna: Supporting the RM. This is the most expensive land in Marrickville & you want to destroy it. This land can make Marrickville Council one of the richest Councils in Australia. We have to do a Masterplan for this site.
Clr Kontellis: Opposing the RM. Councillors were in support of the motion last December. We only added Point 4 asking, can we add another level, can we have a little more information so we can make an informed decision? I don’t believe this RM is in the best interest of the people of Marrickville.
Clr Peters: Opposing the RM. It’s glaringly obvious that Clr Hanna sees this land as a goldmine. I see it for the future of our community that doesn’t have much open land. The land isn’t here to build & sell housing on. Regarding parks on corners; look at Hyde Park, Enmore Park or Central Park in NYC. Most parks in built-up areas are near traffic. It’s not away in an industrial area, it’s opposite bus stops, a church & a very popular restaurant. We have to think of the future, this is community profit that people can use.
Mayor Byrne: Opposing the RM. I believe previous Councils meant to work on this land for the community. We were gifted with Tempe Tip & we have done a great job on Tempe Reserve. The hospital site is a main project on its own. It has opportunity & capacity. This RM will not allow us to see what this property can deliver. What was moved & adopted by Council is to ask, is it feasible on the whole site to have a park & let’s see what information we get back. If the report says it will create problems with the viability for other projects on the site, then we won’t pursue it.
Clr Tsardoulias then read out the names of Greens Councillors who voted against aspects of this site from what he said was the Minutes of the last 6-years & said, I moved this RM because you shut me out.
Clr Thanos: When Clr Tsardoulias was not allowed to speak the debate had been closed.
Clr Tsardoulias: Putting a park here goes against affordable housing. We have got a crisis in the community. Kiss goodbye to the library & affordable housing. You are not thinking of the ratepayers. It’s financially unviable to do this as we only have $2 million in reserve.
Clrs Tsardoulias, Wright, O’Sullivan, Hanna & Macri voted for the RM. Clrs Thanos, Olive, Peters, Kontellis, Phillips & Byrnes voted against it. The RM was lost.
To keep the size of this report manageable, I will write about the other items of interest in a separate post. Here ends Report from the Gallery Part 1.