Arlington Oval, though the 2 Sydney Blue Gums on the left have been removed.

Arlington Oval, though the 2 Sydney Blue Gums on the left have been removed.

This was the Council Meeting. The following is how I understood the meeting & all mistakes are mine.  I have left out some of the debate as it ran for more than 1 hour & many things were repeated.  Note: MC = Marrickville Council, AO = Arlington Oval, ST = synthetic turf, PoM = Plan of Management.

The Councillors & Wards are as follows – LABOR:  Iskandar/Central, Haylen/North, Tsardoulias/West, Woods/South. GREENS:  Phillips/Central, Ellsmore/North, Brooks/West, Leary/South.  LIBERALS: Gardener/North, Tyler/West. INDEPENDENT:  Macri/Central, Hanna/South

Notice of Motion: Street Tree Outside 16 Temple Street, Stanmore – Clr Phillips asked: That Council monitor the Lemon Scented Gum (Corymbia citriodora) street tree outside 16 Temple Street for 12 months & then review the decision for removal. I was not present for the debate.  Vote for – Clrs Phillips, Leary, Brooks, Ellsmore, Iskandar, Tsardoulias, Haylen, Woods & Gardiner.  Against Mayor Macri, Clrs Hanna & Tyler. Carried.

Notice of Motion to Rescind: Arlington Reserve Playing Field – This issue was debated on 20th November 2012.  See –    Clr Gardiner: Because no-one gave a precis of the speakers for & against, there should be no speakers tonight.  Staff: It’s a policy matter. You are entitled to insist on it, but it has not been common practice.  Clr Brooks:  People should not be stopped from speaking on a technicality.  As there were 33 people from the community registered to speak it was decided that only 3 for & 3 against could speak.

The speakers for the rescission motion raised the following – 1,348 petition signatures were collected against ST over last 5 days.  It doesn’t add up financially – $800,000, plus maintenance to replace a $50,000 maintenance bill for grass?  That’s $750,000.  There are environmental impacts. ST can be 20 degrees hotter in summer & that heat is going into surrounding houses. Chemicals are also an issue.  Find another ground for one of the clubs. A local school might like having their ground developed.  There is enormous disquiet about this in the community.  It’s about equity & ethics.  Report says that soccer clubs will help pay for field improvements.  Is the offer from the clubs in writing? If so, why aren’t the papers attached as per ICAC guidelines?  I’m concerned about a minority group disenfranchising the local community.  The problem is 2 clubs playing on the one field.  This denies access to the community & schools.  Leaves cannot fall on ST so there will be calls to remove the trees. The clubs assert there will be no increase in usage, yet we will be spending $1 – $1.5 million?  The Hurlstone Park Wanderers are interested in playing at AO.  MC said it would need to increase usage to more than 60 hrs/week.  A tripling is unreasonable.  To vote first & act later is a farce.

The speakers against the rescission motion raised the following issues –  Grass surfaces are not suitable at AO in current state despite MC spending $300,000 to rectify the issue.  ST is safe for everyone.  Why else would schools install it?  No safety concerns, only myths.  The environmental concerns are favourable. The field will not get more usage. All users are members of the community. ST will show how MC are looking after the people. Councils all over NSW are approving ST.  It’s crazy when you roll your ankle & you are out for 3-months.  My enjoyment of that field should be the same as everyone else’s.  We represent 1,800 people & the Stanmore Hawkes have 3,500 people.  48 games a month is a myth.  32 degrees of higher & no game can be played. We pick up dogs droppings on AO before our kids play football.  There is no leeching from ST surface.  Everyone says AO is a dog pit & they hate coming there. (After the speakers finished a representative from each side left the Chamber together, presumably to negotiate a mutually agreeable outcome.)

Clr Brooks: The residents worked very hard. 1,348 petition signatures were collected over last 5 days. I was concerned about contempt via emails from Clrs. Why are you ramming a motion like this through when there is so much concern, logical impossibilities & so many questions?  Important to recognize there is a shortage of open space.  There is no business case for ST at AO. The environmental issues are quite specific to the location.  I have concerns regarding technical decisions around this proposal. The embankments make drainage difficult.  ST does not do well with pools of water.  The residents have very little trust that they will be respected or consulted.  There will be floodlights streaming into houses until 9pm.  If we can get a commitment from MC about turning off the lights, then this won’t be an issue.  Clr Phillips: We have to vote to rescind the rescission motion to debate the issue.  Moved to investigate hybrid grass.

Mayor Macri:  Clr Tsardoulias:  Last meeting we didn’t vote to lay ST. We spend $56,500 every year. We have problems in LGA with a shortage of space.  Tempe Reserve is a pig sty. Mackey Park is a mess.  AO is restricted to 22 weeks in the year.  We had community engagement for months.  Every day we face complaints by staff & players.  We could shut AO down & the issue would be solved, but I’m in the business of keeping it open.  Violence in the community is not tolerated. In the last 7 days people have been threatened; receiving phone calls at midnight. Concerns about traffic will be alleviated because of the PoM.  Today I instructed the Rangers to find out who owns the boat. I’ve instructed them to tow away cars.  It will be enforced & monitored on a weekly basis.  AO has been there a long time, since I was a kid.  This motion I’ve received is a balancing act.  I’m about listening.

Clr Brooks: Amendment – MC provide a report on the environmental health of synthetic turf with references to DCP & LEP.  Cr Phillips: A couple of years ago we gave $270,000 to get good turf at AO.  If it’s failing I’d like to know why.  We have thrown away a lot of money.  I am not convinced we have to go the way of ST.  AO is not a closed ground.  MC should look at other areas.  If we were to do it, we should do it in Tempe Reserve.  AO is the wrong place.  That’s why 1,300 signatures were collected in only 5 days.  MC must recognize this.  Residents must feel they have been heard.  MC did choose Option 3.  There is a real risk that the players will want to change the PoM in the future.

Mayor Macri:  Motion that we get a report on the condition of the surface & outline options. 1. Maintain current usage & deal with problems as is. 2. Reduce usage & tell clubs we don’t want you there. 3. Investigate ST. Nothing is wrong with the process.  Henson Park is a good model. They all get on because they respect each other. There are no dogs at Henson Park so there is no poo problem.  Nothing was in the report about taking out trees.  The surface is vacuumed once a week. Actual soccer use is heritage.  MC spends more money on its residents. We are Number One.

Clr Leary: Tempe Reserve is not dead. There are many in the community fighting against WestConnex.  Clr Gardiner:  I am ashamed that so many people have expressed abusive & defamatory comments. Exaggerated clapping from the Gallery is unhelpful. As Marrickville’s population increases we are moving toward higher density. People have to learn to get along.   The residents have chosen to live next to a sporting reserve. Over the last week I have heard ST has been blamed for global warming & Hurricane Sandy.  For goodness sake people, get along.  Let’s move forward as a community.

Clr Hanna:  I’m very happy we are going to come to an agreement. Clr Gardiner had worked very hard to get everyone to this situation.  Clr Iskandar:  When I was the Mayor I was very well respected, so some comments show me that some people are looking for cheap politics. It’s about safe turf.  We want to address the issue.  Instead of grass we use ST.  “Some players are wogs.” – that’s not true. I was abused in the first open meeting.  The Management Plan; we did it & everyone was happy.  The Labor Party did it so please treat us with respect.  I commend Clr Gardiner for putting this together.

Mayor Macri:  Part of the motion is to look at lighting issues.  Clr Tsardoulias: in 2009 we said we put shadows on those lights. Agreed to absorb into the motion.  He supported Clr Brook’s amendment, but wanted it dealt in a separate motion.   Clr Gardner: I’m concerned this may delay. Staff: It can be done by Feb 2013.

Clr Tsardoulias: I inspected every oval with staff.  Tempe Reserve is a disaster.  AO; a disaster.  Camperdown Oval; an extreme disaster. Mackey Park; bad.  Our budgets do not cope. We have a reputation of having the best services.  Our childcare is the best because MC takes responsibility to make sure we balance the act.   Vote – unanimous.  Part 2 next.