Showing the new trees planted last year to replace the Poplar trees.  Mature poplars can be seen in the background.

Showing the new trees planted last year to replace the Poplar trees. Mature poplars can be seen in the background.

Marrickville Council has released the findings of their community consultation conducted in October/November 2014 regarding the Parks along the Cooks River, excluding Tempe Reserve.  These are Mahoney Reserve, Steel Park, the Cooks River Foreshore (the area between Steel & Mackey Parks), Warren Park, Richardson’s Lookout, Mackey Park, Kendrick Park & the rapidly disappearing Fatima Island.

The community consultation is part of the process for Council to design a Master Plan & a Plan of Management of the 2.5kms of Cooks River foreshore which will take us into the next 10-years.

It’s a long & comprehensive report, so I will cover the more interesting points park by park starting with Mahoney Reserve.  It appears that seventeen people participated in this community consultation – thirteen were Marrickville residents & four residents of Earlwood.

Question – “If you could have anything in the world in HJ Mahony Reserve, what would it be?”   Responses ranged from –

  • Dog off lease area,
  • More trees & mulch around the trees,
  • Children’s playground, barbeque & picnic facilities, mini skate ramp & another waterplay park,
  • Canoe launch,
  • Café,
  • Small grandstand,
  • Bush regneration/revegetation,
  • bush tucker garden,
  • Community compost area &
  • Peaceful space/sporting space.

When asked to change one thing about the park, one person said “replace poplar trees.”   Personally I hope this does not happen. Even though these are not native, they are great trees for riparian areas. These trees are tall with large canopies & they provide much seasonal interest.  The Poplar trees in Steel Park, along the Cooks River Foreshore & in Mackey Park are much loved by the community because of their grandeur.

Steel Park across the road is filled with these trees, so to remove the Poplars here does not make sense. You may as well remove all the Poplars along the river & wouldn’t this be a huge loss. Climate change is a serious issue & big trees perform the best in carbon sequestration.  At least six mature poplars have been lost to boring insects in this park over the last 5-years. They were replaced by native trees in 2014.

Six people stated that the park needed more trees & shade. I agree. There is plenty of room for more trees along the riverbank.

Thankfully someone said “no more bike pathways,” though another  requested a bike path here.  Although I routinely cycle along the Cooks River & love the pathways, the lovely thing about Mahoney Reserve is that the river foreshore manages to be a space away from crowds.  It has a “goat track” alongside the river.  There is no concrete, no playgrounds, no barbeques & organized activities other than sport.  Therefore it is the one park along Marrickville’s section of the river where you can find peace & quiet.

I hope this aspect remains because a space for quiet reflection is also a very important part of recreation & often overlooked in terms of importance.  The river parks along Marrickville Council’s section of the river are in danger of becoming ‘entertainment sectors’ in my opinion & the push for this will only increase as more people move into the area.

Criticisms of Mahoney Reserve ranged from the lack of shade & mulch around trees, no off-leash dogs allowed, not enough bins, no dog poo bags, the state of the public toilets & the amount of litter from the park users.

Showing the new trees while facing Marrickville Golf Course.

Showing the new trees while facing Marrickville Golf Course.

This Fig tree was also planted in 2014.  It will eventually be a feature tree visible from Illawarra Road.

This Fig tree was also planted in 2014. It will eventually be a feature tree visible from Illawarra Road.

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