Marrickville Council has released its Recreation Needs Research Strategy for public comment. Only 1.27% of the population participated in the community consultation opportunities. The results are now up on ‘Your Say Marrickville’ & the community is being asked to comment by the 6th June 2012.
“Implement a design and place-making pilot program to convert under-used pocket parks into a cohesive network of urban green space.” This sounds great. Some of the pocket parks are underused because they are ugly spaces with broken seats. I know that there are many in the community who would like them fixed up.
“Investigate options for additional sustainability projects – including the redeployment of under-used pocket parks as urban forests or community gardens; the use of permeable pavements in parks and public domain areas and the use of vegetated roofs on park buildings.” I think all of these suggestions are terrific. I have always been a fan of green roofs & was sorry that they were not included in the LEP. I’d also like to see Council negotiate to have empty Railcorp land planted with trees or shrubs to increase the urban forest & add beauty where there is little.
“Need for clear distinctions between public and private space.” I don’t really understand this point & can only think of one potential place where the distinction may not be clear; that is the open space for the potential new library development if it appears to be part of the potential residential development. The new park was to be on the corner of Marrickville & Livingstone Roads opposite St Bridget’s Church & in front of the library building. This makes it clear that the open space is connected to the library & for everyone’s use. I would like this issue to be considered if any new plans place the park in another location that would make it look like it is connected to residential units.
“Inclusion of sensory stimuli (including elements that delight the eye, hearing, taste, smell and touch) in public places.” More attention needs to be paid to landscaping. While woodchip is good for birds to forage for food, it seems to be the main feature in many locations.
“Upgrade landscaping and shade provisions at the water play park in accordance with issues raised in the community consultation.” I would like any shadecloth structure to be a temporary measure only & trees planted around the WaterPlay area to provide natural shade for the future.
“Increased social interaction.” This is a great suggestion. There really needs to be tables near the entrance to Mackey Park & not in the playground for the older people to be able to get together as they used to. They used to meet here most days. Now they stay at home because there is nowhere to sit & as they told me, they don’t want to sit in the playground. I wrote about this issue in January 2011. See - http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/01/19/mackey-park/
“Need to orientate buildings to streets, plazas and parks to create ‘eyes on the street.’” “the widespread adoption, over the past ten years, of crime prevention through environmental design strategies to minimise crime in public places by enhancing the perceived risk of detection and apprehension.” I think sightlines are over emphasised in our parks. It is very hard to get away from the sounds, smell & visibility of the traffic. You can see from one side of the park to the other even in our largest parks. Drive along Victoria Road Marrickville & you can look through Enmore Park right across to Black Street.
Noise is also a big issue. In Tempe Reserve you get unbuffered noise from the airport, the airport highway & from the Princes Highway. It is unprotected from the wind as well. Sydenham Green is worse as the heavy traffic is closer.
I think the emphasis on crime & injecting drug users is overdone to the detriment of the community. Fear of crime should not be used as an excuse to avoid planting a decent quantity of trees and shrubs in parks. If fear of crime is over-emphasised in park design, the community & wildlife end up losing a great deal of beauty & amenity.
I give two very popular parks in two other municipalities as examples where the Councils have created a private green oasis without emphasising sightlines.
Rockdale Park in Rockdale – This is an incredibly beautiful park. So beautiful in fact that Rockdale Council’s website says that it, “is the City’s most popular venue for outdoor wedding ceremonies and/or wedding photography.” Understandable. It was the first place I thought of when discussing a friend’s upcoming wedding of their daughter.
So what makes it beautiful? It has hundreds of trees of many different species. The majority have been allowed to grow naturally so they have side branches often just above the ground. There are seriously good landscaped gardens & lots of flowers. Large garden beds full of flowers are mass-planted twice a year – Petunias & Pansies. There is at least one pond & a man-made stream that curves around the park that I presume can be filled on request. A red Chinese-style bridge crosses the stream while a wooden pagoda stands nearby in front of a lawn area. There is lots of attractive seating placed in areas of dappled shade, full shade & sun. Importantly, the busy road can’t be seen from most places inside the park & the traffic noise & smell is buffered by the trees & landscaping. This is a park where you can get away from the madding crowd, yet it still feels safe because there are always people using it.
Beauchamp Park in Chatswood – It is lined on one side by Canary Island palm trees & filled with very tall trees throughout the park. Beauchamp Park makes me wonder why none of our parks have trees of this density or of this height. This is a park where you can sit with your back against a tree without having to sit in woodchip. There is tons of seating, some with tables scattered all around the park. There is also public art, a playground, memorial trees & garden beds of flowers & other flowering plants & no grasses, except for lawn. While you can see through the park, there is a strong feeling of privacy. This is an extremely popular park because it is so people-friendly & beautiful. It is also filled with birdsong. You can watch a short video here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QclJsLEw-zQ
This & the last 2 posts on the Marrickville Recreation Needs Research Strategy are what I paid attention to in the report & I will be contributing on Council’s Have Your Say webpage. While this is just a study with recommendations, without public feedback Marrickville Council can be forgiven for thinking that the community approves of the suggestions included & decide to put them up for decision at a Council Meeting. If the Councillors vote to approve some of these recommendations then there will be great changes in our environment, some good, some excellent & some I consider disastrous.