Marrickville Town Hall. Photo taken 2011. The units on the right have been completed.

Marrickville Town Hall. Photo taken 2011. The units on the right have been completed. The two trees on the right have already been chopped down & all the other trees in this photo all also be removed.

Marrickville Town Hall.

Marrickville Town Hall a couple of weeks ago.

Petersham Town Hall.  These trees create a positive impact as you travel down Crystal Street.   Why would the trees need to be removed at Marrickville Town Hall & not here.  They are the same species.

Petersham Town Hall. These trees create a positive impact as you travel down Crystal Street. Why would the trees need to be removed at Marrickville Town Hall & not here?  They are the same species & they create the same effect of beautifying both Town Halls.

On 7th June I posted about a community consultation event on 12th June about the proposed upgrade to the Marrickville Town Hall Forecourt.  See – http://bit.ly/SkNRWh. I decided to attend because I wanted to hear firsthand why healthy trees are to be removed.

It was with some surprise that I found out that I was not required to give any written feedback & that the plans were considerably different to those previously put before the Councillors for a vote.  When I asked about this staff told me that the plans for a $575,000 upgrade on which the Councillors voted on 15th April 2014, “were just a guide & these are the plans now.” I was quite confused as to why Councillors would have approved a design that was not to be used at a cost close to six hundred thousand dollars.  I had read the Council papers & nowhere did I see that the then diagrams were not the design.

So instead of community consultation to give feedback on a design that was voted on nine weeks previously, any attending community were to be shown a new design & from that give verbal feedback to staff.

Marrickville Council posted the new design on their website on 20th June. See _ http://bit.ly/1jGJ74T

The new plans will remove the three conifers around the War Memorial & the four large conifers at the front right side corner of the Town Hall building.  The remaining trees alongside the Town Hall building will be removed at a later unspecified date.

To the left of the Town Hall steps, Council plans to plant a small stature Magnolia tree.  This may not happen as a ramp entrance is planned to curve up to the steps in this place & there may not be room for a tree.

On the Petersham Road side, six Poplars that reach 12-metres at maturity will be planted as street trees. These trees are columnar in shape.  Both the Magnolia & the Poplars are deciduous tree species.

The plans for the garden bed planting have not changed.  It remains Indian Hawthorn as a hedge, Box hedge & Chinese Jasmine as a ground cover.  Council believes that the building should be highly visible & it will be, especially in the cooler months, when the trees have no leaves.

Granite paving at approximately $200 per square metre – “comparable to concrete” – will be laid in the forecourt area, as well as along the Petersham Road parking area & footpath.  The bus shelter will be moved closer to the Fire Station located on the left.  There will be eight bench seats located near & around the War Memorial.  Thankfully, Council will install a line of bollards to prevent the forecourt being used as a car park.  Delivery trucks will still be able to use the forecourt.

A new Winged Victory statue will be made – an “interpretation” of the old one.  It will be wonderful to have what was one of the special & lovely aspects of the Marrickville Town Hall Forecourt returned.  It has been years since she was removed to languish in Council’s depot yard.  The original Winged Victory is to be displayed in the Australian War Museum in Canberra.

A media release from Council said that Meridian, a fine art foundry will manufacture a new Winged Victory that has been designed by Peter Corlett. “The interpretation will be cast to the same dimensions & will be in a similar form & spirit. In the new interpretation the sword has been lowered in a gesture of peace.”

While I think that these ‘real’ plans are an improvement on what was approved by the Councillors in April 2014, I personally don’t think it will make the forecourt a great place to be.  This is because I have a preference for trees & believe they enhance buildings & public spaces, while Council believes that trees will detract from the building.

I did speak about the area outside the HUB at Newtown.  I think this is an example of successful placemaking.  There are four large canopy broadleaf trees there that provide lovely dappled shade.  Those trees make that area pretty in my opinion.  People go there to go to the markets or grab lunch to eat on the steps or simply meet friends. I believe that it is the shade provided by the trees that makes it a popular meeting place.  The grassed area on the right of the HUB is almost always empty of people as there is no shade.

The Marrickville Town Hall Forecourt is already a hot place & will be hotter without adequate shade.  When the 2012 International Women’s Day event was held there, Council’s own photos posted on Facebook, showed the attendees clustered under the shade of the one available tree.  Without any trees or just one Magnolia next to a ramp, the forecourt will continue to be a hot place.  I think it will look harsh as well, but this is personal opinion.

If Council chooses dark-coloured granite to pave the forecourt, it will most definitely add to the local urban heat island effect.  Recently the media published many articles on the urban heat island effect & the need to change the culture of dark roofs & bitumen roads in order to get a modicum of control over the heat in Australia.  Dark colours are seen as a wrong choice given the changes in our climate.   Add the fact that there will be no shade trees & you have a hot place where people will have no protection from particulate matter from the increasingly heavy traffic.  Is this a problem?  I think so.

I was also told that this design would go to a DA process & it was only then that the community could put in submissions.  I was assured that trees would not be removed until this process was completed.

Therefore last Monday afternoon when I took a researcher visiting from England to see the Town Hall, I was shocked to see that the two smaller conifers next to the War Memorial had already been chopped down.  The community consultation event was only held on the previous Thursday afternoon/early evening.

Many in the community won’t be concerned one way or another about the loss of the trees, but I care.  I fear for the thousands of birds that live in the trees alongside the building.  I rue the loss of more trees, especially trees that are healthy, have a historical context & not causing damage to infrastructure.   There is more than enough room on this wide footpath to plant six Poplars & keep the other trees.  However, I have been doing SoT for long enough to know that Council will go ahead with their plans. The quick as lightning start to remove trees indicates Council’s decisions do not necessarily take community comments into account and may already be finalised.  I hope the evicted wildlife manage to survive & I hope that the Forecourt & Petersham Road side does become an attractive place where people love to gather.

I have a legitimate interest in wanting where I live to look good.   Increasingly, as I go around, my memories are sad ones as much that is beautiful is being lost for one reason or another.  This is progress.

The War Memorial as it looks now after the trees have been removed.

The War Memorial as it looks now after the trees have been removed.  The tree on the left will be chopped down soon.  I fail to see how granite paving will improve this view.

This is the only tree that provided shade.  It is to be removed as well.

This is the only tree that provided shade. It is to be removed as well.

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