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Unfortunately, here is another sad post. What you are looking at is a series of before & after photos of Meeks Road in Marrickville.
3.5-years-ago members of the community group Bush Pockets planted this area with native trees & shrubs to create useful habitat for wildlife, to screen the railway line & to add beauty to the streetscape. They were very successful & there would be few people who walk, ride or drive past this area without enjoying the beauty that they created. It is not an exaggeration to say that it is rare to have such a nice streetscape in Marrickville.
On 21st June 2012 Marrickville Council came & removed it all – even though this was a Council sanctioned verge project. Council then said they made a mistake. I would not be the only person who is questioning how such a mistake could be made.
This is a devastating loss, not only to the people who worked hard to create this, but also to the rest of the community. The wildlife didn’t fare well either as they have lost yet more habitat.
The only good thing is that Council says they will replant the street. Let’s hope they do it this year.
Council Meeting. Absent: Clr Iskandar. The following is how I understood the meeting & all mistakes are mine.
Community hall hire – A speaker she had researched who used the halls in Marrickville & found it was mostly people from a NESB & that attending was the highlight of their week. She said they were independent, but still disadvantaged. She said these functions improve quality of life, happiness & well-being & as such there should be no fees charged for hall & meeting room use. If Council could not do this, then they should do community consultation & assess which groups did not have
ability to pay. She said group bookings should be a separate issue & people from outside the LGA should be able to hire the facilities to help pay for the upkeep of the facilities.
Clr Thanos said Council was asking $10/hr/per group & had done a budget adjustment for groups that can’t afford hire charges giving them $1,000/yr towards this. He said Council want to help disadvantaged groups, but stop other NFP groups who make money by taking advantage of Council. Clr Wright opposed the recommendation saying if it was passed she would put up a foreshadowed motion to revert back to Council’s previous policy. Clr Kontellis opposed the motion saying she thought the process would be labour intensive & she wasn’t sure it would deliver equity. Clr Phillips said he would support Clr Wright’s foreshadowed motion & said the process is creating unnecessary bureaucracy.
Clr Macri supported the motion saying disadvantaged groups will be looked after & that it was difficult for Council not to look at revenue streams when council is in such a dire financial position. Clr Hanna was against the recommendation & said political parties must pay to use the facilities. Clr Thanos said Council cannot exclude NFP groups & a return to the previous policy would be endorsing a $60,000 budgetary hole. He also said the current operating surplus of Council was “$100 or close to.” He said this was a well-endorsed decision that took 6 years to make & should be trialed for 12 months. The recommendation was lost. Only Clrs Macri & Thanos voted for it.
Clr Wright put up the motion to revert back to previous policy not to charge NFP organizations & said those who charge an entrance fee should pay $19/hr for halls & $15/hr for meeting rooms. Clr Hanna said again that political parties must pay. This motion was lost with Clrs Thanos, Byrne, Macri & Tsardoulias voting for it. They then voted to revert back to Council’s previous policy, which was carried. Clrs Thanos, Hanna & Macri voted against it.
Verge mowing – Council wants to do a staged cessation of verge mowing over 3 years encouraging the community to plant these spaces. 2 residents spoke for the recommendation saying they were impressed with the quality of the Report & if implemented, could transform the streets of the LGA. They said issues such as better stormwater management & minimal use of impermeable surfaces would help the Cooks River, biodiversity would increase as would community input & participation, safety & social harmony. Using the money to clean up shopping areas would improve amenity & make Marrickville LGA look more attractive & planting verges would result in less dumping. One mentioned that Bush Pocket sites look after themselves after 6 years & that the pollution from 1 small petrol lawn mower operating for 1 hour was equivalent to 10 standard cars.
Another resident spoke against saying that Bush Pockets shouldn’t be included in the Report as they are a separate issue. She also said that there needed to be community consultation before Council decided to stop mowing verges. She said Council couldn’t dictate that people mow verges, that Council has too many grassed areas that should be removed & that areas along the Cooks River should be planted out so people cannot get to into these areas to assist wildlife. She thought the report had many flaws & did not consider those in the community who would not be able to mow their verge.
Clr Thanos moved that the Report be noted & delayed for 3 months for further consultation & be included in the community consultation for the Urban Forest Policy. He said Musselbrook Council had removed verges from some of their median strips saving the Council millions of dollars & the residents were happy with the plants chosen. He said different community groups have different needs, that it was a shame that more in the community did not want to volunteer for Bush Pockets, but Council wanted to massively change services that have been provided for 40 years. He had no problem asking for a special rate levy to pay for this. He thought the change should be over 10-20 years. He was also concerned that Council workers would fear they may lose the jobs.
Clr O’Sullivan thought it was an ambitious policy that had pitfalls & wanted an amendment that Council was planning to present the Public Domain Policy in the next 2 months & as verges are a part of this, should be included in that policy. Clr Wright said she supported Clr Thanos & Bush Pockets initiatives, but was opposed to removing essential services. She thought that providing mowing for all the exceptions would result in extra costs & that this is a traditional service.
Clr Phillips also supported Clr Thanos saying it was a long-term project & Council needed to support the community who were interested in planting out verges. Clr Peters also supported Clr Thanos & said she thought Council needed to encourage the community to view verges in a different way. She said Randwick, Waverley, Ashfield, Manly & Burwood Councils don’t mow the verges. She was supportive of saving money. Clr Olive also supported Clr Thanos saying he would never support cutting mowing to this extent. He said he hoped Council would cut down 1-2 cycles from the 11 per year & the money saved could support the community taking measures that they want. Clr Kontellis supported Clr Thanos saying this issue was greater than merely saving money.
Clr Hanna also supported Cr Thanos & said the residents don’t get this service for free, they pay rates & are paying enough money for this service. Clr Macri didn’t support the motion, but said he did not support ceasing mowing. He said the
residents are not happy with the edging not being done & reducing mowing cycles only means that cutting the grass takes longer labour hours. He supported Bush Pockets & thought most in the community didn’t know that they could garden their verges. He said Council’s policy on tree planting was less than desirable with trees pulled out & broken.
Clr Tsardoulias supported Clr Thanos saying it was an alarming report & asked who is responsible if someone trips over something someone other than Council has planted. He was concerned about access for prams & people with disabilities. He said he would not support cutting services, job loss or redundancies & proposed an amendment to restore edging. Clr Thanos said he couldn’t support this as it saved around $500,000/year. Staff said instead of edging, better street cleaning was done. If edging wasn’t done they could employ less summer staff. Clr Hanna supported Clr Tsardoulias’ amendment. Clr Peters did not, saying St Peters residents were happy at the increased cleaning of streets. Mayor Byrne said she didn’t support immediate reinstatement, but was happy to investigate further & look into a special rate levy. Clr Tsardoulias’ motion was lost. Clr O’Sullivan’s motion was carried unanimously.
The new Urban Forest Policy was also part of the agenda. I will post about this separately.
Awfully late notice – Bushpockets meets for a working bee at the Victoria Road Bushpocket – 10.30am-12.30pm TOMORROW Sunday 23rd May. They will be doing weeding & some planting. Please bring your own hats, gloves, tools & water.
In Bushpocket news – last weekend a group planted out a new site in Marrickville Avenue (off Livingstone Road, along the rail line, near the Greek Church). It was a great turnout with 16 residents from quite a small street joining in with an impromptu sausage sizzle. If you have a patch of land near you that you think would make a good Bushpocket let Michael know. It’s a great way to build a sense of community in your street. Contact details are in the blogroll in the left-hand column.
There will be a Sorry Day event at Wilkins Public School organised by Marrickville Residents for Reconciliation. Students of local schools: Ferncourt, Wilkins, Marrickville West, Dulwich High, Fort Street High & Tempe High will do art & performances to entertain you. Reconciliation activist Sally Fitzpatrick will speak on “What does sorry mean?” There will be a group poem composed & free ice-cream & cake for supper.
Sorry Day - Wednesday 26th May 2010 from 7pm. Wilkins Public School. Entry is via Park Road. Everyone is welcome.
Around 2 years ago someone organised landscape planting along the embankment of the railway line along Marrickville Road & on the other side opposite Frazer Park Marrickville. Masses of small native trees, shrubs & grasses lined the embankment. As they grew, they substantially improved the outlook of this rather stark, heavily cemented area on the Marrickville Road side of the embankment. The trees not only provided a visible sound barrier to the passing trains, but provided food & habitat for birds, insects & small animals. Eventually
it developed into a lovely thicket that was in flower & filled with birds when I visited a few months ago. I thought at the time that this should be done right alongside all railway lines as a norm.
Last week I saw that the embankment looked different. At least 65 small trees had been chopped down. Some areas of this land is hidden behind the brick retaining wall so there may have been more trees removed than I could see. I cannot understand why the trees were chopped down. They were not falling over the road, nor were they tall, large & heavy. It’s a shame because the area now looks picked at & has great gaps in the vegetation. I hope they intend to replant or decide to leave it alone so that any seeds have a chance to grow.
1. 3 street trees are up for removal in Marrickville LGA. One of them is a Eucalypt outside 11 Union Street Dulwich Hill that SoT & the community campaigned to save back in June 2009 http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2009/06/16/first-tree-at-risk-union-street-dulwich-hill/ & http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2009/10/26/26th-october-09-beautiful-healthy-street-tree-lives-on-because-of-you/ The other trees are in Hamden Avenue Marrickville & Railway Crescent Petersham. I will go have a look at them & post something when I know more.
2. Save Hoskins Park was established by Dulwich Hill residents who are vehemently opposed to a DA which plans to demolish two 1920s Federation houses & build 11 modern
3 storey town houses with underground parking. 9 of the townhouses will face Hoskins Park. The community is opposing this DA for a variety of reasons. They are also very concerned the townhouses will loom over Hoskins Park. This is a reasonable fear because the bulk of Hoskins Park is located at the bottom of a natural valley.
SoT is concerned about this DA for 2 reasons. Many mature trees will be removed (hopefully Council will insist that a mature Palm on the site is relocated). The proposed development does not appear to leave any room for replacement tree planting as it seems to want to occupy all the land with the buildings & rely on the park for green space. The DA is expected to be before Council sometime in April.
Save Hoskins Park has an active petition that I am told is heading towards 1,000 signatures. The group can be contacted via their Face Book page – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-Hoskins-Park/321996854627
3. Volunteers are needed to help local community environment regeneration group Marrickville Bush Pockets for the following dates:
- Friday 26 March 5.30-7.30pm – barbeque afterwards
- Saturday 10 April – 9am – 12 pm
- Sunday 23 May – 9am – 12pm
- Saturday 19 June – 9am – 12 pm
See http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2009/12/29/29th-december-09-beauty-the-beast/ to see a recent project. Contact details are available on the Community WHAT’S
ON page of this site.
4. The Wentworth Courier reported that Presbyterian Aged Care NSW plans a major development at the Scottish Hospital in Paddington. They plan to retain the heritage-listed trees as well as restore the 1848 house & the terraced gardens. This is good development as it preserves the history & the landscaping. http://wentworth-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/hospital-redevelopment-called-in-by-state-government/
5. The Cumberland Courier reported of a dead/dying/nearly dead 45 metre Gum street tree in Lindfield & how a resident’s 6 phone calls to Ku-ring-gai Council asking for the tree to be removed were unsuccessful, until she went public in the North Shore Times newspaper. http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/ruth-s-six-requests-over-three-months-to-remove-danger-tree/
6. Not local, but good reading anyway from the Marshfield Mail which concerns the question & answer session during a Marshfield Council meeting (St Louis USA) where the Mayor, who was totally against the city watering newly planted trees, accidentally sided with the yes vote. http://www.marshfieldmail.com/articles/2010/03/17/news/doc4ba12c5f7ca8a795218253.txt
7. Back to local Council news – the Inner West Courier updated the drama unfolding regarding Strathfield Councillor Lim & alleged breaches of conduct as well as making 17,217 photocopies (not a typo) between October 2009 to January 2010 – http://inner-west-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/they-re-out-to-get-me-lim/
8. The Inner West Courier reported that many hundreds of fish were found dead in Hawthorne Canal on the boarder of Leichhardt & Haberfield. http://inner-west-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/eyes-pop-as-fish-die/
Yesterday I went & took some photos of Marrickville’s newest swale built recently by Marrickville Bush Pockets, though I understand it is a work in progress with a way to go. It looks lovely & there were lots of birds foraging when I arrived.
On one side of the road is beauty created by those who built the swale & planted trees, shrubs & grasses. On the other side is a vacant, weedy parcel of land owned by NSW State Rail.
I wonder if they would allow planting because it is a perfect site for a small urban forest. Right now it is a dumping ground for all sorts of rubbish, including posters that have been ripped from the nearby rail underpass.
There are numerous small parcels of land that have remained vacant & seemingly of no utility along this railway line. It would be wonderful if NSW State Rail could plant trees & shrubs in these parcels of land. Not only to create visual beauty & soften these rather hard corridors, but also to provide safe homes for wildlife.
Perhaps we should be influenced by the wonderful work done by Wendy Whitely over the last decade or so. She simply went into the NSW State Rail owned land at Lavender Bay & started work. Now there is a garden that is so beautiful, even State Rail did a turn-around. They now support her work leaving the rather significant area that was once a weedy parking area for trains for the community to use. It is a refuge for both humans & wildlife & something Sydney is proud of. We can only hope.
The Inner West Courier published a letter of mine about the revised plans for Mackey Park. If you are interested in reading it, click on the Media page in the left-hand column, which will take you to the link.
In other news, Bush Pockets is building a swathe this Saturday morning in Marrickville & would love help from anyone who wishes to volunteer for an hour or 2. For details about Bush Pockets & contact information, go to the What’s On page on the left-hand column.
SOT doesn’t campaign to save trees on private property (unless it is a significant issue which clearly affects the community), but today I feel the need to make mention of an old & beautiful Coral tree in Newtown which met its death today. It’s the usual reason. A resident complains to Council & says the tree is causing damage to pipes or property, so the tree has to go & the community has lost 1 more large tree.
I mention this because I want to share parts of a letter that was sent to me regarding this tree. I think that this small excerpt conveys the distress that people feel when a tree is chopped down. It also eloquently highlights how many birds & animals rely on this tree.
I imagine it has been a bad day for the writer. Their garden, which was green & leafy from the branches that overhung the fence & shaded the fernery will now be bare, hot & unsuitable for ferns. Instead of leafy green, there will be a view of a red brick wall. Then there is the issue of the family of possums – where will they live now? Most of the trees in that area have been chopped down & this was the last large tree standing:
“So now we lose a beautiful tree because someone ‘doesn’t like it’, doesn’t like the mess it makes, doesn’t like the fact that it ‘get’s in the way,’ disturbs the plumbing, costs money & is wrongly accused of being ‘dangerous’.
Just now…when its Spring…when the tree is looking its most magnificent…in full bloom…new growth sprouting everywhere…branches laden with Rosellas gorging themselves on its red pods & filling the air with a cacophony of birdsong…such a rich, rich divergent habitat…home to possums & many other creatures…”
Local community landscaping group Marrickville Bush Pockets will be having a working bee on:
- Sunday 30 August 09
- At Victoria Road Bush Pocket – located down the southern end of Victoria Road, Marrickville along the railway line (just where the road does a dogleg under the line).
The main job on the day will be to reduce the weeds before they take off in spring & perhaps some planting. You will need to bring your own tools, hats, water etc. Marrickville Bush Pockets is an open group who are always looking for new members. Join other members of the community to make unsightly & neglected areas of public space in the Marrickville area beautiful again by weeding & replanting.
You will need to RSVP the organizer Michael Easton. For Michael’s contact details, click on the Community action – WHAT’S ON page on the left hand column of this site.