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The Coral tree for removal is centre of this photo.

Inner West Council has given notice that they intend to remove a Coral tree (Erythrina × sykesii ) inside Weekley Park, adjacent to 89 Albany Road Stanmore.

Council gives the following reasons for removal –

  • “Tree has poor vitality and significant canopy dieback.
  • Major open wound to trunk with decay and loss of structural wood.
  • The tree poses an unacceptable level of risk to the public and property.”

The Coral tree is thought to be a “hybrid of horticultural origin, that was probably developed in Australia or New Zealand.” http://bit.ly/2tsjgKC

It is regarded as a weed tree in NSW because they can regrow from a fallen branch, a twig or stem or even suckers.  Despite this, they can easily be managed in suburban areas as shown by Bayside Council who have classified a number of their old Coral trees as significant & protected.

The condition of this Coral tree in Weekley Park is as described by Council.   They say they will replace this tree with an Illawarra flame tree (Brachychiton acerifolius) by September 2017.

While it is a shame to lose this big old Coral tree, I am pleased that it will be replaced with a native tree that puts on a great colour show & can grow to a significant size.  We need big trees.

Illawarra flame trees are native to coastal rainforests from central New South Wales to far north Queensland.  They are deciduous in winter & produce clusters of vivid red bell-shaped flowers over spring-summer, which provide food for nectar-eating birds, bees & butterflies.  Anytime an Illawarra Flame tree is added to the Inner West landscape is a win as far as I am concerned.

The deadline for submissions is this Friday 23rd June 2017.

It appears that the bark was removed to inspect the tree. You can see that it is not in great shape.

Marrickville Golf Course

Inner West Council has given notice that they intend to remove & work on trees located in Marrickville Golf Course.

Council says it plans to do the following –

  • “Tree removal– includes the removal of several dead trees or trees present significant defects and/or structural issues.
  • The creation of habitat trees– where trees are reduced down to safe limbs and boxes and hollows are created for use by native fauna.
  • Tree pruning– to remove defective or dead branches to reduce risk.”

Council do not give the location or number of trees to be removed.  We should be told about each individual tree & why they must be removed.

Nor do they give the number & location of trees they intend to prune or those they intend to make into Habitat Trees.    Council goes on to say that –

“All trees to be removed will be replaced (and more) as part of a planting program to be developed in collaboration with Council, Marrickville Golf Course and the community.”

Again, Council does not tell the community how many new trees will be planted or what species.

This is not something I understand.  I think it is in Council’s interest to tell the community how many trees they will plant because this is positive information that makes people who care about the local environment happy.  If Council had informed the community that they planned to plant 15 new native trees for example, everyone would feel happy about it, which is good for Council.

It is called transparency.  It is their duty.  Open & full communication is the only thing that instills trust in the community for what its government does.   You can’t have words about believing in open government & consultation, but fail to inform your community.

On a positive note, I think it is wonderful that more habitat trees are being created, especially in this important biodiversity corridor along the Cooks River.   I also think it is great that more trees will be planted.  The golf course has plenty of room for more trees.

This is the eastern side of Unwins Bridge Road Tempe looking toward the roundabout at the corner of Gannon Street.  I think verge gardens will make a huge difference to the streetscape.

I was pleased to see newly created verge gardens along both sides of  Unwins Bridge Road from Tramway Street to the corner of Gannon Street Tempe.  This is one of the gateways to our area with thousands of vehicles travelling past every day.  The houses are lovely, but the streetscape is not.  Verge gardens will be a boon to the residents who will benefit from a drop in the urban heat island & the addition of beauty.

The verge gardens also put something between pedestrians & the vehicles, which is excellent as so many of the pedestrians are school children.

I am interested to see what Council plants & whether any street trees are included.  Council has planted ornamental pear trees further up the road from Tempe High School all the way to Tillman Park, so there is a chance street trees will be planted here.

Well done Inner West Council.  The creation of verge gardens is transforming streets across the former Marrickville municipality & I think it is great that attention is being given to Tempe.

Southern side of Unwins Bridge Road Tempe, again looking toward Gannon Street.  Even small verge gardens improve the streetscape.  

The chimney December 2016 before any height was removed

Work has almost finished and scaffolding is gradually being removed. The two rings below the top of the chimney can be seen in the middle of the two platforms in the scaffolding in the photo showing the chimney before any bricks were removed. If I am correct, a lot of height was removed.

Back in December 2016 I posted about Sydney Water’s plan to reduce the height of the historic sewer vent at Premier Street Marrickville South.  See –  http://bit.ly/2pXqZ5f

In that post I wrote, “From memory Sydney Water did not feel confident that the vent would survive a one in 100 year storm.”    I was incorrect.  Sydney Water did not feel the chimney would survive a one in 500-year earthquake.  That is a far more interesting reason to remove part of an important historic landmark.  Problem is, none of us will be around to check whether this was indeed necessary at all.

If I look for it, this landmark is quite visible in my day to day activities.  So, it was with great interest that I watched what appeared to be nothing happening behind the scaffolding & I had a ridiculous hope that Sydney Water had changed their mind.

Over the months I chatted with quite a few locals about the chimney & realized I was just one of many who were observing the lack of progress with the hope that it was to be left intact.  Most days I would look & feel excited that the chimney was still untouched.

It was fun while it lasted as I was again wrong.  They did indeed start removing bricks & now their work appears to be completed.

As per the notice out front of the property, the chimney has been lowered to 17.85-metres.  I’ve read the historic detail page by Sydney Water ( http://bit.ly/2hh2LuS), but I cannot find the original height of the chimney to know how exactly much height has been removed.

However, I did notice a couple of interesting points –

  • The sewer vent maintains its original function as part of the SWSOOS ventilation system. So, the lower the chimney gets, the closer the community are to the smell of sewerage.
  • In 2000 the cowl was removed from the top of the chimney. I had to google to find out what a cowl is, so for those like me, “a cowl is a usually hood-shaped covering used to increase the draft of a chimney and prevent backflow.”

The finished work doesn’t look too bad in that there is still something to see on the hill & this landmark is still visible from Petersham.  We haven’t lost out completely.   It’s a shame it has happened at all, but hopefully, if an earthquake does happen, everyone will be safe.

One of two new Sydney red gums. The shade from these two trees, once they have grown, is expected to cover “at least three-quarters of the car park.”  

This area is permeable paving, yet people can walk on it without experiencing problems or noticing a difference.

I was impressed when I read that the Inner West Council had planted two advanced size Sydney Red Gums (Angophora costata) at the Garners Avenue car park in Marrickville as part of an upgrade.

Council Administrator Mr Pearson said in Council’s Press Release, “When mature, these trees will provide canopy cover to at least three-quarters of the carpark.  So, instead of the usual unshaded bitumen and concrete which would increase the inner west’s ‘urban heat island effect,’ we are actually contributing shade, cooler ambient air temperatures, and improved urban air quality.”  

Council’s Press Release makes mention that shade not only increases amenity, but also increases “the serviceable life of the bitumen by up to 30%.”   

The trees were planted in structural vaults, which on the surface look like business as usual, but are actually purpose built to provide optimum living conditions for a tree planted in unnatural conditions.

The surface is covered by permeable paving allowing rainwater to get to the tree.  Below ground, the area for the tree to grow has been prepared by placing good-quality soil in structural cells across a large area.  The structural cells provide room for the roots to grow, but also encourages them to grow in preferred directions.

Better soil, access to water & room to spread allows the tree grow to maturity.   This technique is light years better than digging a hole in the pavement & planting a tree.  It is well worth the money Council needs to spend on this planting style.

Council’s Press Release (http://bit.ly/2qwAt49 ) made many favourable statements regarding public trees.  It appears we can expect to see a positive change in our urban forest.

“Trees usually come second to infrastructure such as footpaths, roads and car parks. But Inner West Council is determined to turn this thinking around.”

I visited the Garners Street carpark & saw the two Sydney red gums.  They look great.  The flowers from these trees will provide food for bees, butterflies & nectar-eating birds.

I was also impressed to see three new Banksias planted in a small garden area toward the back of the car park.

Two other good sized Diamond leaf pittosporum (Auranticarpa rhombifolia) growing on the other side are festooned with orange berries at present.  These are Australian native rainforest trees & their orange berries attract fruit-eating birds.

The addition of Australian native trees that can grow to a significant size is a big & positive change from the current Purple Leaf Ornamental Plum (Prunus nigra) & Evergreen ash (Fraxinus griffithii) planted at the front of the car park.

I like what Inner West Council have done here.  Give the trees a few years to grow & the difference will be noticeable.  The more Council can plant decent sized native trees in areas traditionally covered with concrete & bitumen the better.  Changes like this will have positive impacts on the livability of our area.   I thank Council for doing this work.

New planting of three Banksias and other plants.

Diamond Leaf pittosporums looking great with all those orange berries.

Garners Street car park Marrickville as it looks from the street.

 

The front of what was once the St Mary and St Mina’s Coptic Orthodox Church – “rare & nationally significant”

left to right – Ms Hanan Ghabour, Director of the Australian Coptic Heritage & Community Services, Anthony Albanese MP Federal Member for Grayndler & Reverend Fred Nile, leader of the Christian Democratic party.

I have just returned from a peaceful, intelligent & passionate protest where around 70-80 people met beside the Coptic Church at Sydenham Green to protest Inner West Council’s decision to demolish the building next Monday 8th May 2017.

Is demolishing this building a big deal?  Yes. I think so.  This was the first Coptic Church, not only in Australia, but also outside of the Nile Valley, so it most firmly ticks the heritage box.

First functioning as the Tempe Park Methodist Church, it was purchased by the Coptic community in 1968 & re-consecrated as St Mary and St Mina’s Coptic Orthodox Church.  The National Trust describes the building as being “rare & nationally significant”.

Anthony Albanese MP Federal Member for Grayndler & Reverend Fred Nile, leader of the Christian Democratic party both attended to support the community in saving this heritage building.

The following is what I managed to write down.  I did my best to take it all down verbatim, but all mistakes are mine.

First up to speak was Ms Hanan Ghabour, Director of the Australian Coptic Heritage & Community Services.   She said the Interim Heritage Order protecting the building ended on 22nd August 2016.   The Coptic community have had the building independently assessed & have been told it will take $2-million to renovate.  Inner West Council says it will need $5-million to renovate.

There was a small fire last Tuesday night, that caused limited damage to areas that would need to be renovated anyway.  The fire service were said not to be concerned about the safety of the building.

Representatives of the Coptic community last met with Inner West Council on 3rd March 2017 & have not heard back regarding their offers to renovate the building.

She said Mr Pearson, the Administrator of Inner West Council, said he had three options –

  1. Do nothing.
  2. Do what the previous council had decided, or
  3. Start a third tender process, which will take 4-years.

I felt her despair with getting nowhere with the Inner West Council.

She said Reverend Fred Nile has attended every meeting with the Inner West Council & has lobbied hard to retain this building.

She had been told that Ms Gabrielle Upton MP, New South Wales Minister for the Environment, the Minister for Local Government & the Minister for Heritage cannot intervene & that it was up to the Inner West Council as to what they want to do with the building.

The community is asking the State & Federal governments to intervene & recognize the heritage importance & protect the building. They have also asked Anthony Albanese to stop the demolition.

She said that in Egypt important buildings to Coptic Christians are being demolished all the time, so for it to happen here makes the Australian Coptic community feel further persecuted.

The Inner West Council said they will take out the bricks from the church one at a time & use them to make a footpath in Sydenham Green.  She said this was not respectful. 

[I nearly choked when I heard this.  Council are supposed to be experts on multicultural issues.  Even I know that you cannot get lower than have people & dogs walk on what was once the walls of a church & I am pretty sure this would be regarded as offensive to other Christian faiths, Muslims, Hindus & Buddhists.  In many cultures, even pointing your feet towards a sacred object or a holy person, is deemed offensive.]

She said the Coptic community is a community that causes no problems & they receive no funding for programs.  The Coptic community bought the church in the 60s for $40,000.  The church is also a war memorial.

The community is prepared to request an injunction order on Monday.

Next, Reverend Fred Nile spoke. He said the Coptic community want to save the building & that it should be used as a Coptic centre, a community centre & a museum.

Reverend Nile said he did not trust Inner West Council’s assessment that the building walls were going to collapse & that people will be injured.

He said Council never took care of the church building & they watched it get vandalised.  They have a responsibility to help restore & renovate the building.  The community’s quote for renovation was $2-million.  Mr Pearson said it will require $5-million.  He said he found Mr Pearson negative & exaggerating the cost.

Next Anthony Albanese addressed the crowd.  He said, “This was the first Coptic church outside the Nile Valley & if that’s not heritage, I don’t know what is.”  The community came to Australia to make Australia their home & participate in the community.

“We do not have a Council.  We have an Administrator & no democratic process.”

He said he had spoken with Luke Foley MP, Leader of the Opposition who is committed to standing up for the community & will make representations to Gabrielle Upton, the Minister for Heritage.  He said the State government must stop this order & that he will raise the issue with the Federal government.  “A win here is important for the Coptic community & everyone else.”

He said The Coptic church in Egypt is under siege.  The Australian government can send a message.  We need to represent people of all faiths.  One way to do this is to restore heritage & have a museum & a centre of focus here.  He also pledged solidarity with the community forever.

Then the Coptic Priest addressed the crowd & I left.

My feelings were strong on the bicycle ride home.  This was an engaged, well behaved & intelligent community who in my mind are desperately trying to save a building that does have important heritage connections both for the Coptic community & the Inner West community.

I believe the building should be retained.  Council spends huge amounts of money on all kinds of things that do not have much of an impact, but cost a lot (eg.  The red meshing pattern on the road surface at intersections in the Marrickville shopping strip.  This is to inform drivers of a 40mph speed limit.  The speed limit happens naturally anyway.  Most of the time I travel 25mph along there because this is the speed vehicles are traveling.)

I do believe Council has left the building to decay.   I do believe that the bottom half of Marrickville & definitely Tempe, Sydenham & St Peters have not had much happening for them in comparison to the northern suburbs of the former Marrickville LGA – at least this is my perception over the near 8-years I have been doing this blog.

The Station Master’s property at Tempe was heritage listed, but the same building in Sydenham was forgotten to be assessed by Marrickville Council & therefore not covered by any heritage listing.    Then there was the DA to remove 23 mature trees on the property.  Then somehow, not only were all the trees removed, but the house was also demolished.  Another piece of Sydenham history gone.   Local people care about this, as they care about the fate of the Coptic church building.

Sydenham Green will not benefit by this 1902 building being demolished.  However, both the park & the wider community will benefit by keeping an important heritage building for future generations.  Slowly we are watching heritage be destroyed for high-rise & visually, I think this is a major loss of the character of the area.

I hope the Coptic community wins.  I hope this building can be saved, renovated & start being a place for the community for now & for the future.

There is an excellent article from the Marrickville Heritage Society Jan/Feb 2016 Newsletter on the Australian Coptic Heritage & Community Services website where the Society says, “Council should be ashamed of the neglectful & careless manner in which they have managed this potential community asset, allowing it to decay to the point that even a basic restoration will cost in the order of $2 million dollars.”   See – http://bit.ly/2pjNtZP

Side of ex- Coptic Church in Sydenham and about to be destroyed.

What was the Sydenham Station Master’s cottage is now a desolate treeless block of weeds.

A verge in Marrickville. There is a street tree in that jungle of grass.

I’ve read complaints in the Letters section of the local paper & also on Facebook about the lack of mowing by Council.  Seems there are others noticing the forest of grass growing on our verges.

The letters in the paper must have had an impact because last week I heard the sound of mowers & whipper-snippers indicating that Inner West Council is back on board with tending to the verges across the former Marrickville municipality.

This year I have noticed more weeds on the streets & lanes than I have ever seen & grass on verges almost knee high in some places.

I am assuming the lack of mowing & weeding has been a cost saving measure.   I hope Council achieved what it wanted to achieve, though I find it a bit sad that the visual outlook of a community has to deteriorate for something to be achieved.

Marrickville streetscape – tagging, litter & untended verges.  To me it just looks a mess.  

Much of Marrickville looks like this.

Weeds in Sydenham. You could ignore this if it was rare, but it not. After a while it becomes depressing.

To improve air quality we need our streets and particularly our busy roads to be as leafy as Oxford Street Darlinghurst.  I can see no reason other than disinterest as to why our streets cannot look like this.  In terms of room for trees, Oxford Street is comparable to many of our main streets.

The research on air pollution just keeps delivering.    Now it is breast cancer, one of the major cancers in Australia. 

Most of us would know of at least one woman who has or is a survivor of breast cancer.   Researchers from the University of Florida USA who studied almost 280,000 women found that –

  • “women with dense breasts were 19% more likely to have been exposed to higher concentrations of fine particle matter (PM2.5).
  • For every one unit increase in PM2.5, a woman’s chance of having dense breasts was increased by 4 per cent.” See – http://bit.ly/2nGgOMe

Women with dense breasts are 3-5 times more likely to develop breast cancer. Living in polluted areas increases dense breasts & cancer rates.

Cancer Australia says breast cancer is the second most commonly cancer diagnosed & the most common cancer diagnosed in women.

In 2017, it is estimated that 17,730 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in Australia (144 males and 17,586 females).”  They also say 28 men & 3,087 women will likely die from breast cancer this year.  To add something positive here – 90% of people with breast cancer survive at least 5-years post treatment.

This week SUVs & other diesel powered vehicles made the news because pollution from diesel fuel has been found to cause cancer & respiratory diseases.

In 2016 around 9 out of 10 utes & more than half the new SUVs sold in Australia were powered by diesel.  One third of all cars sold in Australia use diesel fuel.

You only need to look around the streets to see that SUVs are an extremely popular car in this area.  This is of concern because diesel creates more pollution than petrol using vehicles. See – http://bit.ly/2nGgOMe

World Health Organisation statistics state that 3-million people die annually die from air pollution related issues & more than 400,000 people die in Europe due to air pollution.   (http://bit.ly/2o03PqI)

In 2014 research from Environmental Justice Australia found that 3,000 Australians die prematurely from urban air pollution annually. You can download a pdf of their report here http://bit.ly/1M0RJoj

With statistics like these & knowing that traffic pollution within a 500-metre radius of a major thoroughfare has been found to

  • cause lung disease & impair lung function in both children & adults,
  • cause cardiovascular illness,
  • cause death   (http://bit.ly/1MKStR8)
  • increase risk of dementia ( http://bit.ly/2hZ961Q)
  • & now increased rates of breast cancer, you would think that getting rid of high pollution vehicles & planting more street trees would be a major priority.

5 year old photo of one of the ponds in Tempe Lands. It will give you an idea of the beauty of this place.

I read a tweet about Tempe Birdos saying something like they were celebrating after the 110th bird species spotted at the Tempe Lands.  How terrific is this.

Tempe Lands is a series of three ponds surrounded by walking tracks, trees & vegetation.   The ponds collect storm water & filter it before it goes to the Alexandria Canal & then to the Cooks River.

Prior to a $17-million remediation by Marrickville Council that was completed in 2006, this area was a landfill tip.  Now it is a thriving area of habitat & a very nice place to have a walk.  I think it is the most natural green space we have in the former Marrickville municipality, so no wonder the birds come here.  I also think it would be a nice surprise to anyone who has not visited this place before.

Tempe Lands is situated directly beside Tempe Recreation Reserve & can be accessed via South Street Tempe.   It extends all the way to Smith Street Tempe.

The community group Tempe Birdos meet at the Tempe Lands every month to do a bird count survey.  They have been meeting & counting birds since 2011.  They welcome new members to join them on their bird surveys, which start at 8am.  For more information Tempe Birdos can be contacted on Facebook here – https://www.facebook.com/TempeBirdos/

Congratulations Tempe Birdos.  110 bird species seen made me feel very happy.

 

Here is the red flowering gum in 2016 – short, but bulky.

Here is the same tree in February 2017 after being vandalised.  A dead Brushbox is on the right.

A close up of the vandalised tree. You can see that branches have been twisted and ripped off.

Around 5-6 years ago, Marrickville Council planted some red flowering gums along the verge on Livingstone Road near & in front of Marrickville Park.  At the time, I was very surprised as I think Council rarely plants flowering gums. Imagine if the streets were full of flowering gums instead of those awful weed trees Evergreen ash (Fraxinus griffithii), with their hundreds of thousands of seeds per tree.  Flowering gums come in orange, hot pink, soft pink & red flowers & are food producing for nectar-eating wildlife.  They are a short stature tree & perfect for under powerlines.

Unfortunately, Council was ripped off as these trees were the ones that only grow to 1 – 1.5 metres & over a very long time.  I do remember there was talk about removing them in one council meeting, but that did not go any further.

Every year these trees would burst into flower & look terrific.  Every time I passed I looked for them to assess their growth.

Last year Council planted six Queensland Brushbox trees outside the tennis courts on Livingstone Road in-between the flowering gums.  I thought this was wonderful. Brushbox trees grow tall, look lovely & have a great canopy.  This is the side of the road without powerlines so they could grow & eventually could create a visual link to the mature Brushbox trees in Marrickvile Park.

Unfortunately, only three of the newly planted Brushbox trees survived.  It may have been the extraordinary heat over the summer.  Who knows.

A few weeks ago I saw that the biggest red flowering gum, a quite substantial shrub really, had been vandalised.  Someone had twisted & ripped off all but one branch. It must have taken them a great deal of strength & energy to do this because the branches were quite thick.   Yet another public tree lost to an antisocial vandal who is against the public interest.

If I feel frustrated at the amount of tree vandalism that happens in the former Marrickville municipality, I think Council must be either pulling their hair out or numb with fatigue witnessing the destructive things the happen in public spaces.

There are some in our community who go out of their way to destroy any beauty in public spaces.  They would not pick up rubbish or pull weeds out from the verge or footpath as “this is council’s job,” but they think they have a right to vandalise or destroy a street tree because it is in front of their house or planted in a place they think a tree should not be. I have heard people express this sentiment a lot & I’ve never understood the contradictory personal ideology that creates it.

I scoffed when I read today, the following statement in a 2015 article in The Conversation about tree vandalism (http://bit.ly/2n5Ixq7)Larger councils with 50-100,000 trees have somewhere between five and 10 trees killed each year.”

At last count in 2012 the former Marrickville municipality had 22,608 street trees & I doubt this number has changed much.  I can say with complete confidence that at least 10 street trees are vandalised & killed each year just in the suburb of Marrickville, not the whole former Marrickville Council municipality.

Everyone must have read the Chinese proverb –  “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The second best time is now.”   

It takes at least a decade for most newly planted trees to start providing any real benefits in terms of shade, carbon sequestration, pollution uptake & oxygen output.  The twenty years is needed to allow the tree time to grow into a decent size.

Anyway, Council has removed the three dead trees & the vandalised gum.  When looking at my photos tonight I realised that I had a photo of another flowering gum in this particular block & that too has been removed.  Maybe it was also vandalised.  So that is five dead or vandalised trees in what is the space of 40-metres.  Not bad hey?

I wrote a long list of reasons why I thought people vandalised trees here – http://bit.ly/2mCPnY8

Showing 5 of the 6 newly planted Brushbox trees and TWO red flowering gums. It was only after looking at these photos did I see that there was another red flowering gum alive and well here and this too has been removed. Maybe this one was vandalised as well.  The second gum is behind the second staked tree on the right. 

Showing the tree death in this location. Three Brushbox in a row died and one red flowering gum was vandalised. One other small gum tree has also been removed bringing the death count to five.

 

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