I have dithered writing this post for weeks because there are so many issues that have concerned residents. Because I have not been involved, tend to feel scrambled when I try to write about them.
The main issue is the old & very beautiful Jacaranda trees at Arlington Oval that line the border between the oval & Laxton Reserve. Local residents are extremely concerned about these much-loved trees. Almost everyone I speak to who lives near Arlington Oval mentions two things: the Jacaranda trees & the synthetic turf that is being installed at a cost of $1.7 million, up from a previous estimate of $950,000 & it is not finished yet.
The community campaign against the installation of synthetic turf at Arlington Oval has been a long one starting in 2009 & ending with a vote by Marrickville Councillors to install artificial turf in 2013.
Excerpt from the community blog ‘Save Arlington Reserve’ on 6th June 2013 –
“1503 people, mostly Marrickville LGA residents, signed a petition in December 2012 saying No to artificial turf on Arlington.”
“According to figures published today in Marrickville Council’s business papers for the next Council meeting …… a total of 750 submissions rejecting artificial turf on Arlington Reserve have been received by the 27/5 closing date.
Of the approximately 70 unique ‘non form-letter’ submissions made regarding Council’s 2013/14 budget, all but 5 were regarding Arlington, and all but 5 of those were against artificial turf.
This is in stark contrast to the pro-artificial turf lobby who submitted 123 petitions and only 12% of them residing in the Marrickville LGA, and 5 ‘unique’ submissions.”
This blog is very interesting to read. You can see why residents feel angry & let down by Marrickville Council. For a comprehensive history of the campaign see – http://savearlingtonreserve.com
I met with some residents who wanted to talk to me about the trees. They were stressed, angry & worried. We met in Laxton Park & the noise was deafening, but what would one expect with development happening. It was a surprise to me that I could still hear the machinery from a friend’s place in New Canterbury Road. This cannot be helped, but I mention it to provide a thorough outline of what this community is going through.
One of the first things that happened was that the beautiful old Jacarandas were pruned. The branches used to form a very attractive umbrella-like canopy over the edge of the grass playing field. The canopy a major feature of Arlington Oval. It’s hard to tell how much the canopy was cut back, but it appears to be significant.
The pruning of these trees was not expected & according to Marrickvile Council, was done to allow the trucks unimpeded movement in & out of the oval.
I am told that pruning Jacarandas is not a good thing to do as all new growth grows upwards, even if a branch is spreading to the side. Not only does this look odd & detract from the beauty of the tree, these epicormic branches are fragile & once branches start falling, we all know what happens to the tree – it gets removed.
Once the real grass was removed, an approximately 2.5 metre deep trench was dug approximately 4-metres from the Jacaranda trees. This trench was below the canopy, so will have been in the root zone. Again, this has greatly concerned the community.
I spoke to the Site Manager who told me that the ditch was to put in a stormwater drain, as well as to protect the soil & the garden bed. Underneath this ditch is subsoil drainage.
When the work started, flexible orange plastic fencing was installed in front of the trees.
Removal of the topsoil also caused great concern. Throughout January 2014 dust was billowing over the local houses. I was told that 4,000 tonnes of soil was lifted & made into four piles. From there grass and other items were sifted from the topsoil. All this was done during a period of “howling wind.” Naturally, with toxic soil a norm in Marrickville LGA & with Arlington Oval being originally a quarry that was filled in, residents were very worried about the health effects of being exposed to so much dust.
The trucks are also washing their wheels of dust directly in front of the Jacarandas, with this water creating a lake. Much of this water entered the stormwater drain until the drains were sandbagged to prevent this from happening.
The poor Jacarandas have had to deal with pruning, trucks driving over their root systems, installation of a root barrier & stormwater trench & roots sitting in a flooded area. You can understand why the community is worried.
I spoke to the Site Manager about the trees & synthetic grass. He told me they will come in & groom the grass twice a year as a standard or more if needed. He said this synthetic grass does not rot when leaves or flowers land on it, so the Jacarandas & the other trees will not be a problem. They will not use chemicals or a vacuum to clean it, just a leaf blower.
Everyone I have spoken to believes that these trees will be removed because of the installation of synthetic turf. We will see if they are affected by what has happened or are deemed a nuisance or threat to the synthetic turf because of leaf & flower ‘litter.’ I am personally pleased that so many care about these trees & are watching. More later.