Hills Fig tree to be removed at the Marrickville Youth Resource Centre in Marrickville.

Hills Fig to be removed at the Marrickville Youth Resource Centre in Marrickville.

This is a update from my previous post on 13th September 2015 about proposed removal of the Hills Weeping Fig (Ficus macrocarpa var. hilli) at the Marrickville Youth Resource Centre, 23 Yabsley Avenue Marrickville.  See – http://bit.ly/1K54LNg

My comments were prompted from reading Marrickville Council’s Notification of Removal that said, “Tree is causing extensive damage to a significant structure where remediation of the damage cannot be achieved through reasonable and practicable means.”

When I had previously read such short notices that were less than informative, I had argued that Marrickville Council needed to provide more information about the reasons for its decisions. There were some improvements, but Council also slips back to providing next to nothing valuable information. This is one such occasion.

Like every other government authority, especially in this era that they call ‘the era of transparency & accountability,’ Council has an obligation to its community to explain the reasons for decisions without leaving people second-guessing.

I thank Mayor Gardiner, who responded to my email by sending me the full report that Council commissioned.

I can see no reason why Council could not have written on the published Notification of Removal a few extra lines summarizing the main points as to why the tree needs to be removed.

Council could have even uploaded the report on its website together with the Notification of Removal.  If I can have a copy two days after I first posted about the tree, there can be no reason why it could not have been accessible to the community first up.

Uploading it would have made Council’s decision transparent, because the reasons are spelled out in a very detailed way. That would have made Council truly transparent & accountable to the ratepayers, instead of a message that says, “Trust us. We know better & don’t worry about the details.”  

The report mentions a number of exterior effects, such as the low stone fence, kerb & footpaths.  All these are fixable & the report recommends fixing these for the second tree.

However, the report mentions effects that are structural to the building & have mostly impacted the interior. It seems that on this basis, sad loss as it is, the tree will go.

Importantly, the report discussed the second fig tree at the other end of the building.  Naturally, because Council’s notice did not discuss the second tree, the fact that it was examined was not apparent. It is not as close to the wall of the building &, although the report mentions some effects, it does not recommend removal. It recommends ameliorating works in order to halt the progress of more concern.

The central recommendations are, as the tree has an extensive root system, it is feasible to build a root barrier to manage any future root growth affecting the building, as well as repairing the damaged sandstone block fence wall sections. I hope Council gives serious consideration to the report’s recommendations about the second tree.

A good deal of concern could have been alleviated if Council had been willing to be truly informative in the way it communicates with its community.  Again, I thank Mayor Gardiner for sharing Council’s report.