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There is considerable disquiet in the Dulwich Hill community regarding the installation of synthetic turf at Arlington Recreation Reserve. Marrickville Councillors debated the issue on 20th November 2012. See – http://bit.ly/TnDEX5 The issue returned to the Council Meeting on 6th December 2012 with a unanimous vote for a report presenting all the facts to be prepared & return to Council in February 2013.
to go ahead with installing synthetic turf. There was large representation at these Council Meetings – from the clubs who wanted synthetic turf & from the community who didn’t. See – http://bit.ly/TICPY1 On 19th February 2013, the issue was again debated in the Council Meeting. The vote was 6 for – 6 against, with Mayor Macri, who raised the motion, using his casting vote to carry the motion.
The ‘Save Arlington Reserve Group,’ formed by residents in 2009 is continuing their campaign to stop synthetic turf from being installed, this time at the budgetary decision level.
Marrickville Council plans to spend $1,055 million on Arlington Recreation Reserve, which alarmingly totals 31% of the total yearly budget for parks for the entire Marrickville municipality. That is – almost one third of spending money will be used on Arlington Recreational Reserve. $1,435,172 has already been spent on Arlington Recreation Reserve from 2009 – 2013.
Save Arlington Reserve Group has other concerns about the use of synthetic turf at this location. You can read more here – http://on.fb.me/18N0NbP. If you can help with the campaign contact – firstname.lastname@example.org. This post on the Save Arlington Reserve website goes into detail regarding their concerns & objections about the cost of installing synthetic turf – http://bit.ly/14rBp8b. This page also has a link to where you can send a submission to Marrickville Council. The deadline for submissions is Monday 27th May 2013.
There are strong concerns for the Brush Box, Gum trees & the row of Jacaranda trees growing close to the paying field. All add significantly to the beauty of this Reserve. It is known that leaves that fall on synthetic turf cause the surface to rot & the playing field will need to be vacuumed regularly to prevent this from happening. All these trees drop copious amounts of leaves & the Jacarandas are deciduous. They also drop thousands of purple flowers. It is felt that the cost of removing leaves & flowers will be seen as prohibitive & will result in tree removal later on.
I would imagine that a barrier would need to be constructed to stop the mulch around the Jacarandas & some of the Gums from coming onto the playing field. That or concrete the mulched area.
Williams Parade, which runs alongside the Reserve, is lined with tall London Plane trees & it looks fabulous. However, these trees are also deciduous & the wind brings many of these leaves into Arlington Recreation Reserve. It makes sense that some of these will blow onto the synthetic playing field adding to the natural material that will need to be removed.
Council has also said that if tree roots encroach on the synthetic turf playing field, the trees will need to be removed.
Synthetic turf is made from petroleum products & frequently contains heavy metals such as lead, aluminum, zinc, chromium, copper & sulphur. Heavy metals will never break down & they will enter the soil & the local environment.
Biodiversity does not just concern that which lives or grows above the ground. Playing fields are great places for birds to source food, both above & below the ground. Last week I watched numerous native birds hunting for food on the playing field, including four Kookaburras & I don’t see these birds often. If the playing field is covered with synthetic turf, it is highly likely that the territorial birds will not survive.
Marrickville Council has acknowledged that the Urban Habitat Mosaic needs to be increased. It does not make sense to cover one of our few areas of biodiversity with plastic grass.
Detergents & chemicals will be used on a regular basis to clean the synthetic turf. All this liquid will have to go somewhere. If it goes into the ground around the playing field it will likely affect the trees & also make its way down to the Cooks River. It was Marrickville Council who taught me that suburbs that appear a long way from the Cooks River actually do bring stormwater & whatever comes with it to the river. The artificial turf will also need to be sprayed with weed killer.
Despite some Marrickville Councillors giving assurances that the Reserve will be kept open for the community to use, it is usually locked, except when there is a game on. Therefore the community will be paying almost one third of the budget for parks for a green space that they cannot access unless there is a game on. The community wants to be able to use this green space when it is quiet as well. It is closed off from the road, something that is rare in Marrickville LGA. Should the community be losing green space when Marrickville LGA already has the least green space in Australia?
Something that concerned me is the use of geo-textile material on the large area of garden beds. I presume the geo-textile has been used to prevent soil erosion & prevent weed growth. I imagine it will do this successfully.
My concerns are that the geo-textile acts as a barrier for birds, insects, lizards, Bandicoots & other ground-feeding creatures to access food from the garden area. The geo-textile also has a string webbing through it & I am concerned that as it breaks down the string will get caught around the toes & feet of birds causing potentially serious injuries & for many, a slow death. Perhaps this won’t happen because the wildlife will quickly learn that accessing food sources from the soil is impossible here. Either way, another green area has been lost as a foraging area for wildlife.
Council has planted new trees to replace the ones they removed. These were drooping last week. They have also planted Ivy & Hibbertia scandens, a native vine with yellow flowers that is used in the municipality as ground cover. My friend who came with me asked why Council did not try to hide the ugly perimeter wall by planting Grevillias & other attractive shrubs that would provide cover & be a food source for birds. I could only agree.
Yesterday (24th April) I attended the public meeting held by Marrickville Council to discuss their recent works that demolished the bio-swale at the Victoria Road Bushpocket site in Marrickville.
To recap: on 21st March 2013 I saw heavy machinery removing the boulders that made up the swale. On 28th March 2013 I posted about the swale, which was gone leaving bare dirt, a telegraph pole in the new road section & sprayed markings that looked like a path. I heard that the Council works were to create a cycleway. See – http://bit.ly/XDgLlz
Several senior Council staff attended the meeting. It was explained that Council had made a mistake & there had been poor communication between departments regarding the swale at the Bushpocket site & the building of a cycleway. Council apologized unreservedly for this, saying they would work to improve communication across departments.
It was explained that the cycleway works in this location are part of the Camperdown to Cooks River Cycle Route. Specifically, the road was widened here to assist heavy vehicles to navigate the corner.
Where previously cyclists used the lane either side of Victoria Road, the new cycleway will instead put cyclists in one lane as a separated two-direction kerbed barrier cycleway located on the roadside next to the Bushpocket. The width of the two-way cycleway will be 2.52 metres. To claim roadway for the cycleway, the swale was demolished.
Marrickville Council said they intend to replace the swale & handed out plans dated April 2013. Council were unsure of the costs to do this work.
There was concern from one of the residents who specializes in bio-swales that the plans for the swale would not work as the space was insufficient. Council invited this resident to participate in further planning of the swale.
Council also emailed the residents the plans for the cycleway in this section of Victoria Road & Myrtle Street. We were told that side from bringing cyclists from both directions onto the same side of the road, the cycleway will direct cyclists to cross to the other side of the road in Myrtle Street. This explains the path to nowhere & appears to save the street trees on the eastern side of Myrtle Street. However, this direction to cross the road in Myrtle Street is not on the plans. See below.
You can download the plans for the cycleway here, though be warned, I found it impossible to read the writing on the plans on my computer or on a printed copy. The cycleway route however is easily seen. - - http://bit.ly/ZmsG7b
The plans for the swale can be downloaded here – http://bit.ly/11muRpk
As a cyclist, I can’t say that I felt I needed protection in this section of Victoria Road. Both kerbside lanes used by cyclists were around the width of a normal traffic lane & it was rare to see a parked car so it was a roomy ride for me. It was explained that all that has been lost was the mound of earth on the roadside of the swale. That mound however, was a significant size & part of the Bushpocket where plants grew.
I thank Marrickville Council for responding to the complaint about this issue and holding the meeting. It was obvious that they wanted the best outcome for everyone.
The following was posted on Marrickville Council’s Facebook page –
“Nominate a Street Tree. Tell us about that vacant tree pit or tree-less grass verge in front of your house, & Council will come & plant a tree. We are preparing for the 2013 annual street tree planting program & are looking for suitable sites to plant street trees.
Send your request to email@example.com & provide the following information:
- ground surface (ie. Grass verge, concrete)
- power lines above?
The suitability of the site will be assessed by Council’s tree management team & an appropriate tree species determined. Nominations close on Tuesday 30 April.”
Thank you Marrickville Council. This is a wonderful initiative. I don’t think it would hurt to let Council know of other locations where tree pits are empty/covered with bitumen or of streets that need street trees either. They can only say no.
Please spread the word as there is a good chance many won’t hear about this. The deadline is only 2-weeks away & tree-planting only happens once a year.
Marrickville Council has given notification that they intend to remove 2 trees in Petersham.
Tree number 1: a Chinese Tallowwood (Sapium sebiferum) outside 44 Charles Street Petersham. Council gives the following reasons for removal –
- “Tree is causing significant damage to private property & public infrastructure.
- The damage &/or possible future damage to private property cannot be overcome by any practical means.”
Council says they will replace with a Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) during 2013 planting season.
Unfortunately this tree has two large roots travelling directly underneath the house. It has caused a couple of cracks to the brickwork of the porch.
Of interest, this tree is regarded as a ‘weed of local significance’ in neighbouring Leichhardt Council. It is also included in the Regional Weed Management for Sydney by NSW Department of Primary Industries. I have noticed these as street trees in many of the surrounding streets.
Tree number 2: a Jacaranda (Jacarand minosifolia) outside 15 McRae Street Petersham. Council gives the following reason for removal –
- “Tree is dead & poses a risk to public safety.”
Council says they will replace with a Tallowwood (Eucalyptus microcorys) during 2013 planting season.
Sadly the Jacaranda tree is dying. I thank Council for using sticky tape to fix the notification of removal signs to both the trees.
The deadline for submissions for both trees ends Friday 26th April 2013. I will not be sending in a submission. firstname.lastname@example.org
In February 2012 I wrote about Marrickville Council’s plans for Old Canterbury Road Lewisham, between Parramatta Road & the railway overpass. See – http://bit.ly/woTF6K
Council have replaced the footpath, removed 1 ailing street tree & planted 23 new street trees with root barriers. The trees were 10 x Spotted gum (Corymbia maculata), 11 x New South Wales Christmas Bush (Ceratopetalum gummiferum) & 2 x Blueberry ash (Elaeocarpus reticulates). Council also created 36 new verge gardens between 1 metre & 1.3 metres wide & 4 metres long.
Thank you Marrickville Council. I thought the new streetscape was a vast improvement on the old & will watch with interest as the trees grow & the verge gardens fill out.
The street trees & verge gardens will help remove pollution & particulate matter – important as this is a high traffic road. They will also cool the street, add oxygen to the air, provide food for urban wildlife & have a positive impact on property values, among other benefits.
If this kind of streetscape beautification work happened across Marrickville LGA – as funds were available, we would have a much nicer place to live with greater diversity for urban wildlife. I’d wager the community would be happier too.
Yesterday I received an email informing me that Marrickville Council chopped down a large tree, thought to be a Brush Box, from Enmore Park. The tree stood at the Victoria Road entrance to Enmore Park, opposite Addison Road, so it is one of the highly visible trees in the park.
Those removing the tree said that it, “had a fungus, was rotten & split in the middle.”
I find it interesting that this tree was not included in the list of trees proposed for removal as a result of the recent Tree Inventory. See - http://bit.ly/STufHw
Neither was this tree listed in the notifications of tree removal on Council’s website as is their usual procedure. Council has notified the community regarding tree removals in parks before, including two trees in Enmore Park.
Perhaps the tree was an extreme danger to the community & Council will inform the community ‘post removal.’
Apparently the stump has been painted pink. I can only assume this is a chemical to prevent regrowth & that Council have done this because they don’t intend to remove the stump for a while. If this is the case, then there will not be a replacement tree planted for a while either.
This morning I went to a very moving, yet joyous memorial tree-planting event at Enmore TAFE Park in Simmons Street Enmore.
This is the first memorial tree planted for perhaps decades. I have seen some memorial trees in Camperdown Park that were planted in the 1950s & another in Alison Playground Dulwich Hill.
Until this event, modern day Marrickville Council did not do memorial trees. Clr Phillips brought the issue as a Notice of Motion to the Council Meeting of 6th November 2012. Happily the vote to allow this particular memorial tree to be planted & for a policy about memorial trees, to be prepared by Council, was voted unanimously by all Councillors.
This memorial tree was planted for local man Tom Buchanan 1953 – 2005. He & his family grew up in Simmons Street, opposite the Enmore TAFE Park & before, when the land was a bakery. Tom’s sisters Kim & Jayne, Jayne’s daughter Jody & Jody’s daughter Emma attended the planting today. Kim had travelled from rural South Australia to be here today. I thank the family for allowing me to attend.
Marrickville Council gave the family a choice of tree species & they chose a Blueberry ash.
Three Marrickville Council workers prepared the ground for the tree. The tree was planted & each family member was allowed to finish the planting. New mulch surrounded the tree. The tree itself was a beautiful specimen standing over 2-metres tall. It has been planted in an empty space with lots of room to grow to its full potential & will be a benefit to the park, to the community & to urban wildlife.
Jayne spoke beautifully about the meaning of the memorial tree for their family, as well as future generations of their family. She also spoke of her brother & how much he would have liked this. One of Marrickville Council’s Tree Managers also spoke about the importance of this tree. It was nice to see him there, representing Council.
The Council workers had made an effort with small things that make quite a difference. The spade was shining new & they had tied a bow around it. We all noticed & this pleased the family greatly.
It was not like a funeral. There was more joy that this was happening, than sadness, though the family said there would be tears once they got home. I mention this because some may feel that these kinds of events would be maudlin, but in reality they are events that bring peace & happiness. The family said other members of the family will visit the tree over the years & ensure their children & grandchildren see where it is.
I thank the Marrickville Councillors for voting to allow this to happen. I also thank Marrickville Council & the Council staff for the trouble they took to make this a meaningful event. The tree was beautiful, the effort to make the spade pretty was perfect, the speeches & the smiling staff was lovely. This was a great event & it made the family very happy. For me it felt great to be part of something that has so much meaning & brings happiness to people.
I hope that when the report does come back to the Council Meeting that the recommendation is to allow memorial trees to be planted across Marrickville LGA & that this is supported by the Marrickville Councillors.
Trees bring people happiness & help with grief, especially as they are symbolic of ongoing life. It would be wonderful if our Council could be a facilitator of healing in the community.
Last weekend Council staff, Mayor Macri, Clr Haylen & Clr Brooks joined the residents of Lincoln Street Dulwich Hill to plant street trees in newly created verge gardens. As far as I am aware, this is the first of four streets that are being turned into sustainable streets this year by Marrickville Council. One day I hope there will be 400 sustainable streets & that verge gardens are the norm across Marrickville LGA.
We went down to Lincoln Street last night to have a look. It’s a great improvement. Marrickville Council have removed concrete & created 17 new verge gardens on both sides of the street. There was already one verge garden on the corner, making 18 in total. Marrickville Council donated some native grasses & there are some new street trees as well. The community planted these together last weekend. In time the street will look greener & the residents will have a much nicer environment.
The benefits of verge gardens are too many to dismiss their positive impact on the urban environment. Verge gardens often allow street trees to be planted & they cool down the area by adding much needed shade. Even with no street tree, a verge garden cools down the area by reducing the urban heat island effect.
They can add significant beauty depending on what you plant in them. I’ve seen some stunning verge gardens around Marrickville municipality. They can attract & support wildlife too, again depending on what you plant in them.
Verge gardens also help capture stormwater, which is very important in helping keep the Cooks River clean & helping the wildlife that lives in & around the river. This captured stormwater also helps water street trees that often struggle in a concrete & bitumen environment.
Verge gardens also contribute greatly to stopping dumping & littering. Graffiti taggers usually don’t tag when an area looks pretty.
Verge gardens most definitely increase property values because of the beauty they bring & their presence sends a clear message that the neighbourhood is cared for. I have wondered whether they decrease crime because there is often someone out on the street gardening doing passive surveillance.
Our experience is that you get to know your neighbourhood when you have a verge garden as almost everyone likes to stop & have a chat about the garden. Verge gardens bring communities together & this is always a good thing in this day & age where people often don’t know their neighbours. If the street is full of verge gardens like Lincoln Street, they help create a close-knit community where people work for the betterment of all.
You can contact Marrickville Council to ask that your street be transformed into a sustainable street.
Council’s ‘Have Your Say’ website has information on sustainable streets as well as a downloadable Guideline & Checklist for starting verge gardens. This document is very informative & takes you through all the steps to ensure that your verge garden doesn’t cause problems for vehicles or pedestrians. It is important to follow procedures so that you don’t inadvertently dig through water pipes or telephone cables, as you will be the one liable for the repair costs. – http://yoursaymarrickville.com.au/sustainablestreets
If you would like to create a verge garden outside your property, but it is fence to kerb concrete, you can now pay Marrickville Council to remove the concrete for you. They will do all the work necessary to ensure there is no infrastructure underneath, cut out & take the concrete away & fill the new verge garden with compost allowing you to plant immediately. Their current charge for doing this is $170 per square metre. To organize this you need to contact the Sustainable Streets Officer at Marrickville Council.
My own experience is that I always feel good coming home because the first thing I notice is our verge gardens. From being lawn that was constantly used as a dumping ground for the area’s dated household goods, it is now a thriving patch of beauty that has brought many species of native birds to live here. Seeing it always makes me feel happy. Then I go inside where housework waits.
When SoT started in 2009 Marrickville Council posted removal notifications on their website with a period of 3-weeks for the community to send in any submissions, with their views either in favour or against the proposal. What was important is that the community could have a say.
Then around a year or perhaps 18-months ago Council reduced the consultation period to 10-working days. This usually meant 14 calendar days because weekends intervened. I was concerned about the loss of one week knowing how time-poor most people are & how this may have a likely impact on people making the submission deadline.
Since then Council has been inconsistent, some times allowing 2 other times 3 weeks.
Sometime last week Marrickville Council removed deadlines altogether. They now say, “If you wish to discuss this matter please call Council’s Tree Asset Officer, (name) on 8595 2434 during normal office hours.”
This is not good. I cannot count the number of people who have contacted me because they did not feel confident contacting Council directly. I’ve written posts on issues because the community requested me, solely because people often tell me they do not feel comfortable discussing their opposition with the very person who made the decision. Even I have telephoned a Council staff member only twice since starting this blog. Why? Because it can feel intimidating. Because it sets up an adversarial event. Because we know that if a decision-maker has said a tree has to go, phoning them to say I don’t want you to remove the tree is not going to have much of an impact.
The most important issue is transparency & accountability. If you phone someone, you have no way of knowing that there will be a record of this, or, that any notes that may be kept will accurately & fully describe your views. If you email Council, you get a return email saying they have received your email & will process it. If an issue requires reports to senior managers or to the Councillors, having a system of written submissions, enables the report to correctly record the number of submissions received, how many agreed or disagreed & what issues they raised.
Accountability is very important. There would be few in the community who would not worry that their phone call has been dismissed, whereas an email has a record somewhere.
A community engagement system that relies on a unilateral decision by the decision maker to record or not record, or, how to interpret what you tell them on the phone is not consistent with the principles of open government, transparency & accountability. It gives a signal to the community that Council wants to be the sole arbiter of its decisions about public trees & the sole arbiter of disclosing whether there has been opposition to its decisions.
The people with whom I discussed this new process were not at all impressed with the latest changes.
14th February 2013 – Good news. Marrickville Council has posted a comment stating that their consultation process has not changed & that an administrative error occurred, which omitted to include the deadline date & email address for written submissions. As per usual, submissions can be sent to Marrickville Council at email@example.com or phone the Tree Asset Officer on 8595 2434. See Council’s comment below.