In January 2013, when the temperature reached 46 degrees, I was inside with air-conditioning & visiting a friend. It was only when we went outside at around 5pm that we realised just how hot it was. It was like standing in a giant oven & there was no reprieve from the heat anywhere outside.
This was the first time I had experienced heat like this & it shocked me. Today, the temperature reached only 39 degrees, but it reminded me of that horrible day almost 3-years ago.
I was going to Marrickville Town Hall & decided to ride my bicycle to avoid parking problems. I knew it would be hot, but was unprepared for the feeling of riding in an oven. The sensation while riding along the streets was weird in that the temperature would be hot, but okay for a few metres & then it would become really hot, baking hot for another few metres before dropping in temperature just a bit.
I started to take note why this was happening & observed that the heat was much worse at intersections. It didn’t take me long to realise that it was because there was a greater expanse of bitumen road surface at these intersections & this wide dark surface was reflecting heat at me. This is not something you feel while in a car, even if there is no air-conditioning. You are truly at the mercy of the elements on a bicycle.
Fortunately, I reached Marrickville Town Hall quite quickly. It was then that I experienced the heat of the dark grey forecourt. It was ghastly & gave me no satisfaction to have my rants on this blog about this $575,000 upgrade proven to be correct.
What an awful area the forecourt is on a hot day. It was unbearably hot. It felt like it was hot enough to cook on the dark grey pavers. As such, the great expanse was empty of people, except for one man & his bicycle who sat with his back to the building. He poured a bottle of water over his head & just sat there. There was someone else in the bus shelter & myself. The remainder of the space was devoid of people & it was easy to understand why.
I also noticed for the first time that the disabled entrance that was to go up the left side of the steps at the front entrance was not there despite being on the plans. I remember thinking at the time that the large leaves of the planned deciduous Magnolia tree would drop on the ramp & cause a slip hazard. Disability access remains via the driveway up the side. With such an expensive upgrade, one would think that disabled access through the front door would have been provided.
I noticed that the paving is already starting to deteriorate in areas, just 18-months after this expensive upgrade was completed. Also, a public authority has come along & sprayed markings over approximately 15-20 metres on the corner. These probably mark where the area is to be dug up. This is not something council can control, but it is the start of the deterioration of this place. I highly doubt they will remove the spray-painted marks when they replace the expensive pavers.
The Weather Bureau said today was the hottest December day in 11-years & they expect tonight to be the hottest night since 1868, 148-years-ago.
Climate change is serious. Every year it is getting hotter. Researchers around the world have acknowledged that trees, shade, air pollution & the urban heat island effect are significant public health issues. With this in mind, I think it is a crying shame that Council created a hot, ugly, public space – essentially a dead space unless the weather permits – outside what is Marrickville’s most important public building. It is such an injustice to do this to such an important space.