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Saved!  This tree will have a brace or cables attached to the two large branches

Saved! This tree will have a brace or cables attached to the two large branches

Yesterday I met again the Marrickville Council staff member regarding the Fig trees in Enmore Park up for removal & I was told of the following happy news –

Tree number 7:  T218 on the map, a Port Jackson Fig located at the southern entrance of Enmore Park just inside the stone arch near the corner of Enmore & Victoria Roads.    I had met with a Marrickville Council staff member in Enmore Park on the 15th November 2013 to discuss the trees up for removal.  During that meeting the staff member said they would contract a consultant to see if bracing this particular tree will remove any chance of it falling, but in fairness, I could not write about this until I heard the decision.  I am happy to say that the answer is yes.  This magnificent Fig with its glorious wide canopy will now be retained & cables or bracing attached to each fork to prevent any risk to the community.  This is a terrific outcome as the tree is healthy, has good growth & is laden with fruit.  It is one of two Fig trees the line the entrance pathway into Enmore Park.

Tree number 8:  T221 on map – also a Port Jackson Fig located at the southern entrance of Enmore Park just inside the stone arch near the corner of Enmore & Victoria Roads.  Yesterday I was told that Council will give this tree another 12-months.  They will remove the grass, fertilize & lay mulch. They will also do some reduction pruning.  With luck, all this care should have a good result & the community will get to keep this gorgeous heritage Fig tree.

This means of the six old Fig trees to be removed, two have been given a reprieve, the trunks of two trees that are removed will go to re-vegetation sites somewhere in the municipality to provide habitat for wildlife & one will likely become public art, also to be displayed somewhere in the municipality.  Only one will become woodchip.  I think this is a great outcome.

I thank Marrickville Council for going that extra mile to allow both these grand trees to be retained.  I sincerely believe that there will be many in the community who will be very happy that these trees will not be lost to Enmore Park – yet.  These trees are very valuable because they are large old & beautiful & an important link to the area’s history.  Lets’ hope they both respond well to TLC.

You can read the original post about the removals here – http://bit.ly/19LIErT  & last week’s meeting here – http://bit.ly/1d8vUnh

Showing more of the canopy of the tree that will be braced.

Showing more of the canopy of the tree that will be braced.

This Fig will  be given lots of care & hopefully it will spring back.  Both these Figs make a wonderful entrance to Enmore Park.  Another Fig tree will be planted nearby as a replacement tree.

This Fig will be given lots of care & hopefully it will spring back. Both these Figs make a wonderful entrance to Enmore Park. 

 

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This trunk of this lovely Fig tree is 80% hollow.  The trunk will become habitat for wildlife in another location.

This trunk of this lovely Fig tree is 80% hollow. The trunk will become habitat for wildlife in another location.

I had a very pleasant & interesting meeting with a staff member of Marrickville Council at Enmore Park last Friday.  The meeting was to discuss the old Fig trees up for removal.  For more details & photos of trees to be removed in Enmore Park see –  http://bit.ly/19LIErT

In a nutshell, the news is good.

In my submission I asked that Council consider using the trunk of tree 107 as a public artwork for the municipality if the tree is removed.  I did not want this fabulous tree trunk to be put through the wood-chipper.  See photos below.

It was explained that this Fig tree has a very limited lifespan left & because of a number of factors is not doing well (soil, lack of light, epicormic growth, poor soil).  It will be removed & a replacement Fig planted nearby with room for this new tree to grow a full canopy, not restricted by other Fig trees as this one is.

Council will retain the beautiful trunk of the tree that is removed.  A Tender has been proposed for inclusion in Marrickville Art Post calling for a sculptor interested in creating a public artwork using this tree trunk.  The completed work will be installed somewhere in the municipality where it can continue to delight, albeit with some changes & Enmore Park’s natural history will live on.

I also asked Council to consider making the trunk of tree 104 habitat for hole-dependent wildlife.  The trunk was inspected & found to have limited appeal to wildlife, as it was open to the sky above making it less likely to be chosen as a home by birds, possums & other wildlife.  However, the trunk will be retained & taken to a re-vegetation site in the municipality to be laid on its side & left as more usable & attractive habitat for wildlife.   As it decays it will also provide nutrient to the soil.  This is a great outcome.

We also spoke about the Fig tree that I had missed when I visited this park.  The tree has numerous large cavities & obviously presents a significant risk, as it is located at the edge of the park next to the footpath & Victoria Road.  I have no doubt that this tree needs to be removed.  I was very pleased to be told that the trunk of this tree will also be taken to a re-vegetation site in the municipality to be laid on its side & become habitat for wildlife.   It is great for Council to be using trees in this way.

The Fig trees in Enmore Park will have the grass removed from around their trunks & the ground covered in mulch.  This will help them considerably.  All six Figs will be replaced with other Figs, retaining the lovely look of Enmore Park.  Succession planting is important to do if we don’t want to find ourselves in a position where most of the trees have reached a stage where the only option is mass removal & an denuded park.

I thank Marrickville Council for being open to ideas on using these trees.  I think that many in the community will be happy that the tree trunks of two trees will be used to create habitat elsewhere.  Tree holes are hard to come by these days.  I also think there are going to be some really happy wildlife, as both tree trunks offer excellent housing.  The trunks will also add to the appeal & beauty of the re-vegetation sites, as fallen trees are a natural look.

As for turning the fantastically beautiful & interesting old Fig tree trunk into public art – well this is very exciting to me.  I am so happy Council was open to this request.  I just wish I were a sculptor so I could apply for the opportunity to work with this tree trunk myself.

I think the community of all ages will find the artwork not only interesting, but will appreciate that Council has done something meaningful to retain an important piece of our natural history.   I can’t wait to see the finished piece.   I found the Marrickville Council staff member to be seriously interested in my thoughts & very accommodating answering my questions.  It was a great meeting & most importantly, a great outcome for local wildlife & local art.

One section of the trunk of the Fig tree that may become public art.

One section of the trunk of the Fig tree that may become public art.

Looking further up the trunk of the Fig tree that may become public art.

Looking further up the trunk of the Fig tree that may become public art.

Enmore Park, as it is now known, is a well-loved park in our community.   It has a strong local history, as it was the first park to be established in Marrickville LGA, opening in two sections in May 1886 & on October 1893.  The park is heritage-listed & occupies 10-acres (4-hectares).  The stone entrance gates were built in 1937.  An undefined number of Port Jackson Figs are heritage-listed under the Local Environment Plan, which was passed in 2011.  See – http://bit.ly/166sA9d

Marrickville Council has given notice of ‘landscape improvement works for Enmore Park,’ due to start in November 2013. Council says, “The works aim to improve tree management & include mulching of tree zones, tree removal & tree planting.  The project involves the removal & replacement of several high risk & underperforming trees.”

Council has identified 15 trees for removal & the reasons given are as follows –

Tree number 1:  T104 on map – Moreton Bay Fig located next to Llewellyn Street – “Poor condition with major internal decay. Only approximately 20% of canopy is live.”

Marked by the red dot.  Another tree on the left is to be removed as well.

Marked by the red dot. Another tree on the left is to be removed as well.

Not much canopy left, but lots of holes for wildlife.  This tree makes me wonder if the trunk cannot be kept, made safe & made an insitu home for wildlife like microbats & birds that need hollows.  There are so few trees that offer this.

Not a tall tree & not much canopy left, but holes  & crevices for wildlife. This tree makes me wonder if the trunk cannot be kept, made safe & made into an insitu home for wildlife like microbats & birds that need hollows. There are so few trees that offer this in our LGA.

Tree number 2:  T105 on map – Port Jackson Fig located next to Llewellyn Street – “Canopy dieback & poor overall health.  Extensive epicormic growth. (reactive growth from stems).” 

The canopy is very thin.

The canopy is very thin, but would grass removal, pruning, fertilizing, watering & mulching help it to recover?

Tree number 3:  T107 on map – Port Jackson Fig located beside pathway near corner of Enmore Road & Llewellyn Street –  “Severely suppressed by other trees, stunted in growth & poor structure.  Previously lopped & has internal decay.” 

This Fig tree has the most stunning trunk.  It is knobbly all over & stands straight at around 3-metres tall before any branches are found.  My first thought was that if this if the tree could not be saved, then it should not become woodchip.  How often do any of us come across a tree of such an age, historical significance & with such a decorative trunk?

I think it would be relatively easy to keep the trunk & get a local artist to do something creative with it.  If I was doing it, I would randomly remove individual knobs from around the tree & put something of interest inside the hole, then cover with Perspex to keep the hole enclosed & dry.  I could easily imagine involving a school or cultural group to find the items of interest.  It could become a history tree with a story.  There are many public locations across Marrickville LGA where the trunk artwork could be permanently & safely installed.

I will be asking Council to consider saving the trunk for a public artwork.

This tree has a stunning trunk that I think could easily be used for a public artwork if it has to be removed.

This tree has a stunning trunk that I think could easily be used for a public artwork if it has to be removed.  The tree next on the right is also for removal.

Part of the canopy

Part of the canopy.  Many of the Fig trees in Enmore Park have been topped in the past.  Topping has resulted in the type of branch growth you see here.

The trunk looks like this right to where the branches form.

The whole trunk looks like this right to where the branches form.

Tree number 4:  T147 on map – Moreton Bay Fig (under 5-metres) located next to Llewellyn Street – “Suppressed by neighbouring tree. Mechanical damage to trunk.  Stunted in growth & poorly located.”

Squashed in tight.

Squashed in tight.  Never had a chance.

Tree number 5:  T148 on map – Moreton Bay Fig (under 5-metres) located next to Llewellyn Street – “Suppressed by neighbouring tree. Mechanical damage to trunk.  Stunted in growth & poorly located.”

Not doing well.

Not doing well.

Tree number 6:  T148A on map – Moreton Bay Fig (under 5-metres) located next to Llewellyn Street – “Major mechanical damage to surface roots & trunk.  Poor condition & in decline.”

Damage at the base of this tree's trunk.

Damage at the base of this tree’s trunk is easily seen.

Tree number 7:  T218 on map – Port Jackson Fig located on the right side of pathway at the entrance gate corner of Enmore & Victoria Roads.  “Tree has extensive internal decay with an internal cavity that extends to ground level & a subsidence split to a major limb. An independent arborist report recommends removal.  Tree failed a Resistograph inspection.”

The red dot indicates the Fig tree to be removed.

The red dot indicates the Fig tree to be removed.

Part of the canopy

Part of the canopy

The lower trunk & root system.

The lower trunk & root system.

Other side of trunk.

Other side of trunk.

Tree number 8:  T221 on map – Port Jackson Fig located on the left side of pathway at the entrance gate corner of Enmore & Victoria Roads.  “In decline with major dieback & epicormic growth (reactive growth from stems).”

Has a thin canopy

Has a thin canopy. Maybe anothe tree that would benefit from grass removal, pruning, fertiliising & mulching? 

Canopy detail

Canopy detail

Very large trunk

Very large trunk

Tree number 9:  T227 on map – Moreton Bay Fig located beside Enmore Road.  “Tree has extensive internal decay with large internal cavities.   independent arborist report recommends removal.  Tree failed a Resistograph inspection.”  I do not have a photograph of this tree.

Tree number 10:  T235 on map – Moreton Bay Fig (under 5-metres) located beside Victoria Road. “Tree is in poor condition & suppressed by surrounding trees. Mechanical damage to trunk.”

Planted very close to a substantial tree.  Red dot marks the tree up for removal.

Planted very close to a substantial tree. Red dot marks the tree up for removal.

Tree number 11:   T236 on map – Moreton Bay Fig (under 5-metres) located beside Victoria Road. “Tree is in poor condition & suppressed by surrounding trees. Mechanical damage to trunk.”

Red dot marks the tree up for removal.

Red dot marks the tree up for removal. You can see the damage to the bottom of the trunk.

Tree number 12:  T300 on map – Pyrus sp. (under 5-metres).  “Poor quality stock, mechanical damage & not performing.”  See image below.

Tree number 13:  T301 on map – Pyrus sp. (under 5-metres).  “Poor quality stock, mechanical damage & not performing.”  See image below.

Tree number 14:  T302 on map – Pyrus sp. (under 5-metres).  “Poor quality stock, mechanical damage & not performing.”  Interestingly, there is another of these trees that looks the same & which has not been included for removal.

All three Pyrus sp. looked like this one. All are about 180 cms tall & all are in flower.

All three Pyrus sp. looked like this one. All are about 2-metres or less & all are in flower.

Tree number 15:  T303 on map – Port Jackson Fig (under 5-metres).  “Poor quality stock with root ball defect. Suppressed by neighbouring tree.”   I did not take a photo of this tree.  It looks like the others up for removal along here than are under 5-metres.

A total of 6 trees up for removal are big old Fig trees.  The rest are all sickly & under 5-metres.

Questions immediately come to mind –

  • Why did Council purchase poor quality stock?
  • Why did Council plant trees really close to each other with the outcome that other trees suppress their growth?  Even I could see that trees had been planted on top of each other & that there was no room for them to grow a canopy without competition.  Same for their roots.
  • Why are so many trees affected by mechanical damage?  It is not difficult to find trees that have whipper-snipper or mower damage around the base of their trunk throughout Enmore Park.
  • Independent Arborist’s Reports were only mentioned for two of the trees to be removed.  Six of these trees are old & have historic value to Enmore Park & the community.  Was an Arborist’s Report done for all of these more significant trees?

Council do not even say what species of tree would be planted where in the park, though they have marked the places where new trees will be planted on their map.  All, but two, are located along pathways.   I sometimes wonder whether design in Enmore Park aims to accommodate crowd volumes during the Australia Day event.    It is a hot park & most shade is only to be found around the edges next to the street traffic, or, along the pathways next to the foot traffic.

The six older Fig trees have enormous value to the community.  We have already lost 31 trees to make room for the pool construction.  I am told many of them were old Figs.  Another large Fig tree was removed in 2010, as well as a Tulip tree in 2011 & a massive Brushbox in 2013.

If none of these trees are saved, this would be a total of 49 trees removed from Enmore park within the last 3.5-years.   That is an awful lot of trees.  Council said that 34 trees were planted around the Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre when it was completed, but it took me ages to realize 23 of these were actually a Lilly Pilly hedge.

Marrickville Council says they will replace the removed trees with the following species –

  • Port Jackson Fig (Fifcus rubiginose) x 3 trees.
  • Moreton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla) x 2 trees.
  • Pin Oak (Quercus palustris) x 2 trees – Deciduous tree native to North America & the extreme south of Ontario in Canada.
  • Smooth-bark Kauri (Agathis robusta) x 3 trees – Evergreen coniferous tree native to eastern Queensland & one of the largest trees in the world.   This tree grows straight & tall to a height of 30-50 metres.  While very slow growing, it can eventually grow a massive girth, so it will be interesting to see where in the park Council plans to plant these trees.  Hopefully not somewhere where people will be complaining about falling cones. I am very pleased that Council have planned for large landmark trees that will be one day visible from many parts of the LGA.
  • Chinese Elm (Ulmus Parvifolia ‘Todd’) x 3 trees – Small to medium semi-deciduous tree native to China, Japan, North Korea & Vietnam.  Listed as a weed by the Sydney Weeds Committee.
  • Black Booyong (Argyrodendron actinophyllum) x 2 trees– Stunning large rainforest tree native to eastern Australia.
  • Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimisifolia) x 1 tree – Native to South America, but planted all over the world because of its purple/blue flowers in spring & early summer.  They can be grown from cuttings or seeds & readily spread. Listed as a weed tree by the Sydney Weeds Committee.

I would like Council to –

  1. Consider employing an Arborist who is a specialist in veteran trees to see if there is anything that can be done to save any of the older Fig trees.   Many other Councils in Sydney do whatever they can to retain their old trees because of their value.   I can think of a massive Fig in Scotts Park in Sandringham as an example.  The tree has extensive rot.  Rockdale Council filled the cavity with concrete, probably to prevent it being set on fire & planted a replacement nearby.  Judging by the height of the replacement tree, it was planted around 15-20 years ago.  The Fig tree with concrete is very healthy & looks to be around for a long time yet.  Even though concrete is not used these days, this intervention allowed a beautiful & important tree to be retained.  I can’t help but wonder whether, with the advice of a specialist, if any of our important trees could also be saved.  Even one saved would be worth it.
  2. Consider using the trunk of tree 107 as a public artwork for the municipality if the tree is removed.
  3. Consider making the trunk of tree 104 habitat for hole-dependent wildlife.

I have included two images of Council’s map of Enmore Park below showing the trees for removal & the replacements trees.  You can download your own copy here  –http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/marrwr/_assets/main/lib65091/community%20consultation%20plan.pdf

I thank Council for using sticky pape to fix the signs to the trees.  Any comments or submissions email to – council@marrickville.nsw.gov.au asap, but certainly by the end of October.    I will be putting in a submission.  If you do send in a submission, I would appreciate it if you would c.c. to all the Marrickville Councillors.  Thank you, Jacqueline.

Marrickville Council's map of tree removal & replacement in Enmore Park.  Red Xs mean removal.  Green circles means new trees.

Marrickville Council’s map of tree removal & replacement in Enmore Park. Red Xs mean removal. Green circles means new trees.

Map of tree removals & replacements in Enmore Park

Map 2  of tree removals & replacements in Enmore Park

An advanced Brushbox tree has been planted by Marrickville Council to replace the other Brushbox that was removed last March.  It’s wonderful that this was done quickly.  Thank you Council.

An advanced Brushbox tree has been planted by Marrickville Council to replace the other Brushbox that was removed last March. It’s wonderful that this was done quickly. Thank you Council.

What a loss. You can see the massive trunk.

What a loss. You can see the massive trunk.

Marrickville Council have given “post notification of emergency street tree removal” at of a Brush Box (Lophostemon confertus ) at the Addison Road entry to Enmore Park.  The tree was removed 15th March 2013.

Council gave the following reasons for removal –

  • “The tree was identified to have extensive damage from borer & decay from white rot at a major branch junction. Treatment of the borer & rot was not feasible as the extent of damage was too widespread with approx. 50% of the canopy dead as a result.
  • Important structural wood had been removed (from a ground level to approx 3m) by the decay & a major limb overhanging one of the main entries to the park was at high risk of failure.”

I am happy to say that Council will replace this tree with another Brush Box (Lophostemon confertus) within the next 4-weeks using advanced stock (200L).

Today Marrickville Council put up the ‘notice of removal’ for the Tulip tree at Enmore Park again.  Though both notifications say the deadline for submissions is Friday 3rd June 2011, on their web page they say the deadline is now Friday 10th June 2011.  As all the details are identical, I presume Council has extended the deadline 1 week.  See – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/05/26/tree-removal-enmore-park/

Landscaping around the Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre

While visiting the latest tree up for removal in Enmore Park I saw a few improvements.  Apart from the new Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre, which is truly fantastic, Marrickville Council has completed the planting around the pool building.

A May 2010 paper from the Major Projects Steering Committee Meeting said, “As part of the new works including the new playground, 34 trees will be planted.  In addition 6,500 other small plants are to be included to be planted as part of the project in mass landscape beds surrounding the new centre.” 6,500 plants!  I was impressed.

It looks like the planting of the 6,500 plants has been completed.  They are a series of low-growing grasses & strap leafed plants in blocks of varying shades of green.  Interspersed are some red Cordylines as focal points.   Easy to manage & dull.

The new playground

I did not see 34 new trees, but I did see 2 new Eucalypts planted at each end of the row of palms along the main walkway & 9 new trees, 3 being the ‘old-faithful’ Tuckeroo trees.  They are usually recommended as street trees & I would have thought something a bit more dramatic could be used for a park.  At least Tuckeroo’s provide berries for birds. Still, new trees are great & I look forward to seeing what Council plants with the other 23 trees.  They are needed as Enmore Park still has masses of room for trees.  A total of 51 trees were removed to build the pool so the replacement numbers are considerably less.

What I really liked was the newly planted hedge of Lilly Pillies on the perimeter of the park on Black Street.  Council hasn’t been penny-pinching with their planting here so the hedge will grow nice & thick.  It will not only add beauty, but it will also buffer some of the noise from the playground to the residents of Black Street as well as protect both the park & the playground from traffic noise & some air pollution.  The Lilly Pilly hedge will also provide habitat for small birds & food for a range of urban wildlife.  Birds & flying foxes love the fruit.  I thank Council for doing this & hope they plant many more hedges around the LGA over time.

The new playground looks attractive & is fun for the kids judging by the many happy kids I saw playing there.  The playground is designed to contain the kids & allow easy supervision by adults.  The Lilly Pilly hedge also acts as a barrier for any fast toddlers that streak towards the road.  I am glad Council decided to retain the rocket as a number of people told me that they did not want to lose this.

More creative than usual

Last, but not least is the new seating around the playground.  The park benches & seating with a table are great & there are plenty of them.  Really excellent are the creative stone & wood benches.  I liked them a lot.

I may not agree with chopping down the Tulip tree, but I do think Marrickville Council has done a good job with the latest improvements in Enmore Park.

My husband on the other hand totally disagrees with me. As we discuss what I write he said he thought this post was rubbish & my reticence to write negative things about Council has coloured this post.  He thought the hedge was great, but “Tuckeroos in a park! What the f***  for!”  About the expanse of grasses around the pool… “More grasses!  Council’s design, imagination & value to wildlife is like having a car & only driving it in first & second gear.”  So there you have it. Domestic dissent.

Young Lilly Pilly hedge is great for urban wildlife

Yesterday Marrickville Council posted a Notice of Removal for a Tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipiferum) in Enmore Park.  As usual, the Council web-link provided for further information did not work at the time of writing.

Council gives the following reasons for removal –

  • Inappropriate species for location.
  • Does not conform to landscape design.

Pardon?

They say they will replace the tree with a Port Jackson Fig (Ficus rubiginosa), but as usual, don’t say when they will do this.

Great – a Fig, but to chop down a healthy tree in a park where there is loads of empty space just because it doesn’t fit into their design?

Council says this tree is an ‘inappropriate species for location.’ Why did Council plant a Tulip tree in Enmore Park in the first place if they consider the tree an inappropriate species?   Why is a Tulip tree an inappropriate species? Why is it okay for Tulip trees to be planted as street trees less than 1km away, yet be ‘inappropriate’ for Enmore Park? How many years has the tree been there?  Why does it bother Council now?  I cannot come up with any ideas why a gorgeous & not at all common Tulip tree would be inappropriate for a large park.  Is it like kitchen & bathroom designs that change with the fashion?

The Tulip tree is about 5-6 metres tall & situated close to a row of palms that used to delineate 2 areas of lawn. Now one side is lawn, the other is the concrete walkway surrounding the Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre. 3 palms away, there is another tree close to the palms.  So, I suspect they will soon think this is also unsuitable and will have to go.

Council says the tree “does not conform to landscape design.”  I agree.  However, the palm trees have been there for a very long time & someone in Council planted these 2 trees directly next to this row of palms a number of years ago.  Even before the building of the pool, the placement of these 2 trees was an odd choice.  Not so odd though, that the tree should be chopped down.

Another tree planted close to the row of palms

Someone suggested to me that the 2 trees were part of a row of trees intended to be planted next to the palms, but that Council didn’t complete this plan.  I must say this makes sense as to why these trees find themselves near the row palms.

I don’t believe this tree should be axed.  It is healthy, it shouldn’t lose its life simply for visual conformity & it is beneficial in carbon sequestration & cleaning the air.  That it is just only one tree in a park & is therefore expendable is not a convincing argument for me. Enmore Park has already lost 51 trees to make room for the pool, plus a large Fig tree was removed in 2010.

To be fair to Council, Tulip trees have a symmetrical & pyramidal growth habit & once mature, can have a 12-metre canopy & reach a height of 24-metres. If it does grow like this, it will eventually overtake the palm.  Council could choose to transplant this tree a few metres away.  These trees cope with transplanting as long as water is kept up them while they are settling in.  Enmore Park is a boggy park after rain. Tulip trees love these conditions, which is probably why this species was chosen in the first place.  The tree is small enough not to make transplanting an impossible job. Springtime is recommended for transplanting these trees to prevent stress & increase the chances of survival.

Council say they will replace the tree with a Port Jackson Fig. Well I would be surprised if they are planning to plant it where the Tulip tree is currently located.  If they do, they will only be recreating the same problem. Enmore Park could easily cope with another Fig as well as keeping the Tulip tree by moving it to another location.

I will be putting in a submission regarding this tree & requesting that it should not be chopped down, but just transplanted a few metres away.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 3rd June 2011.  Marrickville Council’s email address for submissions is – council@marrickville.nsw.gov.au

The Tulip tree is the one second from the right & has lost most of its leaves for winter. Therefore, it is not its most attractive time

The following is my take on the meeting.  All mistakes are mine.  There are likely to be mistakes because the sound system has been deteriorating for weeks & is now on its last legs.  The microphones alternate between soft/loud & it is often difficult to hear the Councillors over the air conditioning system & a strange bubbling sound that makes one feel they are in a fish tank.  Nevertheless, the proceedings were blessed with plenty of incisive debate.

1. Sydney Fringe Festival – The Director of the Festival addressed Council asking for $40,000 ‘seed funding’ & free use of Petersham Town Hall & Enmore Park saying that if Council didn’t provide financial assistance, the festival would not go ahead.  He expected the festival to generate $54,000,000 in local business.  Clr Macri was concerned about the money donated to the events sector because of Council’s poor financial situation.  Clr Peters asked Council to organise green transport options to bring the expected 80,000 people to Newtown & Enmore.  Carried.

2. Street by Street – Residents of Wilga Avenue Dulwich Hill have created verge gardens along the street.  They requested $1,000 to ‘further enhance their sustainability efforts.’  Carried.

3. Support for the Peloponnesian Confederation – A representative asked that fees be waived for use of Henson Park for the October Festival.  Discussion centred as to whether Henson Park was an appropriate venue, with Tempe Reserve offered as an alternative.  The Confederation will need to put in a DA.  Carried.

Petersham Oval - Don Bradman played here

4. Maintenance & use of turf wickets – A speaker representing Inner West Cricket Group (Randwick Petersham Cricket Club, Crickets Club of NSW & South Sydney Cricket Club) wanted the retention of 3 cricket turfs at Petersham Park, Camperdown & Marrickville Parks for their use.  Council will continue to maintain turf at Marrickville & Camperdown Parks while the cricket clubs will cover the costs of maintaining the turf at Petersham Oval.  The cricket clubs will also sub-lease the grounds to other cricket clubs throughout the summer season 2010/11.  Council will sell 1 of its turf rollers valued at $5,000.

Clr Marci said Council spends millions on maintaining grounds so Council shouldn’t have to fiddle with the budget to find $5,000.  Clr Wright disagreed saying this was a small price to pay for the overall benefits.  Clr Peters was concerned that they were making a decision to outsource 3 of the LGA’s major ovals without having previously discussed this.  Said the cricket group had no legal status & for transparency, there should be a process regarding insurance, liability & legalities & while the cricket club can sub-let ovals to other groups, their process has no transparency.  She wanted the issue deferred until these issues are dealt with.  Clr Phillips was also concerned that the community loses its ovals to sporting groups & wanted transparency in the clubs’ charges.  The request was carried with Clr Peters & Kontellis against.

5. Marrickville Rotary ClubRequest for financial support– They asked for $1,350 to pay for a driver & bus hired to take 25 refugee children to Jambaroo Amusement Park in April 2010.  Carried.

6. Sister Cities (SC) leave for the General Manager (GM) Marrickville Council for overseas trip – long debate about the value of the SC with Clr Thanos saying he will not support it in future meetings because the benefit to the community

Planter boxes along Brighton Street Petersham. It would be good if planter boxes were a common thing around Marrickville LGA

is nil and the cost high.  He also said Marrickville Council cannot reciprocate on the levels of money that other cities had spent when our officials & would rather see the money spent on Child Care Centres.  Said nothing ever gets done with the SC except for a few photos.

Clr Kontellis disagreed, saying Council has a Strategic Plan as well as a process of review, but despite these she would not support special leave for the GM.  Clr Phillips also did not support special leave saying he could not see the value in SC & would rather see Council spend money that would go on the GM’s salary while he was away go towards Council’s Green House Gas Reduction Targets.

Clr Wright supported the special leave, as did Clr Byrne, but only for the visit to Bethlehem because it is a new SC.  Clr O’Sullivan spoke about the “connections kept & forged within our community” & “that credibility with faith organisations was an assertion of our values as a community.”  Clr Tsardoulias said the program was about exchanging knowledge, ideas & resources.

Clr Peters asked that the GM visit Christmas Island to see what we can do about the refugees there, as some will live in Marrickville LGA.  Clr Hanna said that on previous tours, the GM phoned Council daily & worked on his computer at night, thus his work for Marrickville Council didn’t stop. As examples of the benefit of the programme he said Cyprus liked the Magic Yellow Bus & was going to do one of their own. He said perhaps the trip would give the GM ideas on how to reduce the rates.

Clr Macri supported the special leave.  He agreed we haven’t brought anything much back, but the SCs are poor & benefit from knowledge from us.  Mayor Iskandar who is a strong supporter of SC spoke about the benefits in depth saying the GM will educate people about our systems & advanced programmes.  Carried with Clrs Phillips, Peters, Kontellis & Olive against.

7. Draft Management Plan & Budget 2010-2014 – Clr Phillips reminded that Council put up an amendment regarding climate change in 1997 to lower our emissions by 2010, but we are not going to meet our target.  He said

Ashfield Council buries slotted ag-pipe at the time they plant trees. The pipes help to get air & water down to the soil surrounding the rootball of the tree, especially in cases where the tree is completely surrounded by paving. This is a great thing.

Marrickville LGA’s biggest user of energy is street lighting & Council should move to powering by green power instead of coal power.  Recent price costing was reasonable & he wanted this to be included in the budget saying “it was the moral issue of our time.”

Clr Peters questioned whether graffiti & rubbish removal were major projects. The GM said these are significant issues for the community.  Clr Peters noted  that tree planting & landscaping were not included as key issues. Clr Hanna said residents care about graffiti & clean streets & they do not speak about tree planting.  Clr Thanos said he would like to see sidewalks be other than concrete & wanted to see something done about our energy consumption.  Said again we spend too much money on SC & $500,000 per year on ‘Events’ was “ludicrous.”  He supported the plan.

Clr Kontellis wanted affordable housing included.  Clr Olive did not agree that NFP local organisations should pay for hall hire, saying they should continue to get it for free.  Passed to community consultation before coming back to Council.

8. Draft Core Asset Management Plan – Clr Phillips noted there were limitations to what Council could do because of rate pegging & said he thought the community would support an increase in rates.  Clr Wright said the report provided a framework to allow us to make assessments & go to the community with facts & options.  Carried.

9. 10 Big Ideas to Grow NSW – The NSW Business Council Discussion Paper proposed the formation of 10 ‘Super Councils’ in Sydney to replace the current

spectacular tree at the start of the Newcastle expressway

41 councils.  Clr Olive thought it was a “preposterous idea.”  Clr Thanos said City of Sydney Council has a surplus of half a billion dollars & can’t get that below $200,000,000/year.  Said we should be leaders & not wait until the state government forces amalgamation upon us.  Saying if it benefits our residents, we should say this to the State Government.  The vote was to oppose the idea.

10. 2010 Year of Women in Local Government – Clrs O’Sullivan & Byrne nominated to attend.  The program allocates $17,000 to collect stories from women working in child care, Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander or multicultural communities working in positions where they don’t usually have a voice, opportunity to move ahead or have formal qualifications recognised or obtain formal qualifications.

11. Audit Committee Charter – The Mayor & Deputy Mayor are on it, with the third member as chair and not a councillor.  Clr Phillips put up a motion  saying he was concerned  that as the holders of these offices change, may have both representatives coming from the same party & he wanted the committee to have one more member. Mayor Iskandar said it could be discussed if it happens. Clr Wright said this committee is “an oversighting committee at the highest level & above politics.”  The committee does not have decision-making powers. Motion lost with the Mayor using casting vote.

12. National assembly of Local Government – this is a conference in Canberra in June 2010.  Marrickville Council will attend.  Carried.

13. Financial Assistance for Marrickville Greek Orthodox Church – Clr Phillips put up a motion to reverse the previous decision to give $5,000 to quieten the church’s bells.  Said it was totally inappropriate to financially support a DA & sets a bad precedent & other churches or community groups could feel entitled to $5,000 lots as well.  Clr Thanos, who set the first motion to grant the money, said it was a good will gesture.  Its significance is in that it is for a permanent fixture & not a once-off event.  Clr Olive said that he was bothered because it was a permanent structure & thought it was a bad decision heritage-wise.  Clr Peters said she didn’t think we should be funding a DA. Clrs Peters & Macri were out of the room when the vote took place.  Recision motion unsuccessful. See – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/report-from-the-gallery-–-16th-february-2010/

14. Saving Marrickville from Financial Disaster – See Clr-Thanos-Notice-of-motion-Saving-MC-financial-disaster-2010 Clr Hanna said, if in 2011 there is

a friend's garden

a special rate for the environment, he would not support it & will vote for amalgamation to a Super Council.  Clr Kontellis asked that staff could prepare a study brief that determines the cost/benefit of amalgamation.  Clr Wright opposed the motion saying it “was a wild goose chase that won’t happen unless the state government make us.”  Clr O’Sullivan agreed & mentioned that Glebe Books is coming to Dulwich Hill (yay!) because City of Sydney’s improvements works to Glebe Point Road negatively impacted on businesses. Clr Phillips said amalgamation was a way out from having to vote for a special rate variation (rate increase) as Council’s costs are far greater than the rates coming in.  Clr Thanos spoke about the history of City of Sydney Council amalgamating with South Sydney Council saying it was “a secret agenda of the government for years & he wanted to know the facts & be ready for it.”  Clr Hanna, Byrne, Olive, Kontellis against with Mayor Iskandar using his casting vote.  Motion defeated.

And here ends Report from the Gallery for this week.

New grass planting at Cooks River Marrickville

The evening opened up with an Extraordinary Council Meeting about our Sister City relationship with the island of Madeira, which was recently struck by flood & landslides killing 42 & injuring 250 people.

Discussion covered recognising the devastating effects of this & other recent natural disasters, Council’s poor financial position, the lack of financial capability to reciprocate to an equal level when representatives from Sister Cities visit Marrickville, the large numbers of Sister Cities we have & whether this should be reduced (imagine, “sorry sister, it’s goodbye”) & developing a policy regarding financial assistance to Sister Cities when Council is having problems financially supporting its own services.

The motion was carried to donate $5,000 from the Sister Cities budget to help with rebuilding the affected area. Mayor Iskandar had the deciding vote.

Then came the Development Assessment Meeting.  One wouldn’t think that DAs are interesting unless they directly concern you, but actually they are.

There were DAs for single block developments, shops & large residential housing.  The gallery was full & some residents waited for 2 hours to speak.  The following is my impressions & thoughts:

People from both sides feel quite passionate & emotional about DAs.  Some were frustrated by the time required for the DA process.

Local residents were concerned about developments they felt would significantly change the streetscape in terms of set-back & visual impact. Height, noise, parking, privacy & loss of light were other issues causing concern.

I have seen these issues raised many times both inside & outside Council meetings.  People who become involved by attending Council meetings, signing petitions or lobbying against certain DAs hold the streetscape of the Inner West in high regard & they want to retain it.  It appears that some people new to the area & developers want to build more modern buildings & this causes a conflict with the other residents.

Given that these developments are being built, I don’t think it will be too many years before the visual outlook of great chunks of Marrickville LGA will be significantly changed.  Unlike Haberfield, which has decreed no modern buildings will be allowed & heritage will be protected at all cost, Marrickville LGA does not seem to have a policy like this.

I could be wrong, but it seems to me that if a DA ticks all the boxes, it is up to the councillors as to whether it gets approved.  Naturally, the Councillors have differing perceptions of taste & beliefs as to what constitutes appropriate outlook, as well as what should be knocked down.  Many cherished buildings considered heritage by the Marrickville Heritage Society & other authorities have been demolished over the years.

Last night one developer said the plans for a large  residential development were “unashamedly contemporary,” yet the area this development is situated is one of the most historical in the LGA in terms of housing, other buildings, parks, trees & other historical infrastructure. I see some box-like buildings plonked next to softer, filigree terraces, but I belong to Marrickville Historical Society, so of course I prefer the older buildings.

Only last week Paul Keating said on Lateline, “Well, I can’t teach you good taste” when speaking about the 60 storey glass hotel in red planned for a finger pier at Barangaroo. Interesting that I liked much of the proposed development, but not this particular building.

streetscape

I mention the issue of development & taste because our suburbs are changing.  Marrickville LGA is about to embark on major new development & much of it will be high-rise.  A lot will get through because the state government wants us to have housing for something like another 10,000 people & frankly Marrickville Council desperately needs the money which comes from Section 94 contributions (what the developers pay to Council).

The Councillors need our input either directly or via community lobby groups.  Mayor Iskandar said this in both Marrickville Matters & the Inner West Courier recently.  He also said that the changes coming would affect the community for at least the next 25 years.  If we don’t let the Councillors know what we don’t want, then we will have to accept what the developers give us.

Very soon, a DA for a Backpackers in Addison Road Enmore will come before Council.  This is a 130 plus bed establishment with 7 parking spaces, 2 of them designated Disabled Parking.  Is this of consequence?  Judging by the speakers last night & other recent community action regarding the proposed development on the old Marrickville RSL site, parking is a huge issue in people’s minds.  Council is passing DAs where residents question the parking ratio & sincerely believe parking opportunities will be worse with the new development.

It’s changing times.  Denser living will further impact on parking.  Backpackers often have sufficient funds to buy a car & most residences have at least one car & sometimes more than two.  Council & the government are encouraging public transport use, but living close to a railway station really doesn’t have much of an impact on vehicle ownership yet.  Perhaps later it will when petrol becomes costlier.  For now, there is the problem with a transport system that is already deemed inadequate.  It’s all food for thought.

Moving to trees, a DA at 23 West Street was passed last night.  This site will have 8 double storey modern townhouses built on a block where there are two 9 metre Council protected Canary Island Palm trees & a Fiddle Leafed Fig tree on the boundary of the back property.  Council’s own report stated that Canary Island Palm trees only live for 15-40 years so the development would ‘outlive’ them.  In fact, these trees generally live for 150-160 years, which is an enormous difference.

The Councillors agreed these 2 trees will be relocated to the back of the development, stipulating the root protection zone of the Fig tree will also be protected.  This is a good thing, though I’m sorry we will lose the Palms from the streetscape, which has or is about to lose 31 trees on the opposite side of the street.  Change.

It was good to hear that Palms relocated at Enmore Park for the swimming pool development are doing well.

Another DA passed was 63 Grove Street St Peters which will erect 34 double storey dwellings.  2 mature trees will be removed, yet the landscaping is great.  They intend to plant 10 trees capable of growing to 15 metres, 19 trees reaching 5 metres, 9 trees reaching 7 metres, 10 trees reaching 8 metres & 46 trees reaching 5 metres.  94 trees in total.  They also intend to preserve the current street trees.  I wish all developments planted this percentage of tall growing trees.

One final point of interest is that various sites across Marrickville LGA are considered contaminated, so don’t eat the dirt.  There is some serious toxic stuff around from poor industry practices in the past & dumping.  Like toxins that live on to create problems decades later, we need to think if an upcoming development will also be like that & whether we want to be involved in community consultation to shape our community for the better.

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