Sign opposing the Draft Budget spending plans for Arlington Oval

Sign opposing the Draft Budget spending plans for Arlington Oval

Arlington Recreation Reserve is a small place. Marrickville Council's plan to cover this grass with synthetic turf is concerning many in the local community.

Arlington Recreation Reserve is a small place. Marrickville Council’s plan to cover this grass with synthetic turf is concerning many in the local community.

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  – savearlington@gmail.com. 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.

The new trees looked like they were not doing well.

The new trees looked like they were not doing well.

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.

Just one of the Kookaburras that were hunting for food on the playing field.  One Kookaburra even went onto the field while a soccer game was happening.

Just one of the Kookaburras that were hunting for food on the playing field. One Kookaburra even went onto the field while a soccer game was happening. You can see just how close the Jacaranda trees & mulched area is to the playing field.

A clos-up of the geo-textile that has been used in the large area of garden surrounding a large arc of the Reserve.  That the earth is covered is concerning, plus the string that may pose a risk of injuring birds & other foraging wildlife.

A close-up of the geo-textile that has been used in the large area of garden surrounding in the Reserve. That the earth is covered is concerning, plus the string that may pose a risk of injuring birds & other foraging wildlife.

All the garden area of the Reserve has been covered with geo-textile with holes cut for the ground covering vines.

All the garden area of the Reserve has been covered with geo-textile with holes cut for the ground covering vines.

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