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Cooks River at Marrickville. I feel so lucky to have this river. It's constantly changing & always interesting.

The Dictionary of Sydney says the Aboriginal people had a strong connection with the Cooks River for tens of thousands of years & is “an attachment that continues today.”

On 9th August the Dictionary of Sydney launched ‘Fine stream’, ‘fine meadow’ – launching the Cooks River Project’ on their website.

Made possible through a Federal Government Your Community Heritage grant, today marks the culmination of a 12 month partnership between the Dictionary of Sydney & Botany Bay City, Marrickville & Canterbury City councils, the Cooks River Alliance & nine fine writer-historians whose collective works form the heart of this project.”

14 essays kick off this page, with more to be added over time. The essays cover the original inhabitants, the Eora people & the times when the river was pristine & natural, to modern day as a high-density suburb. It also covers efforts to clean up the beautiful Cooks River to whom we did so much damage in such a short time.

Who knew there was organized bareknuckle fighting in the woods by the Cooks River or a zoo for 60-years at Canterbury Racecourse?  This is a terrific resource full of interesting reading.   It is wonderful to have this kind of information freely available on the Internet.  Thank you to all involved.  See – http://bit.ly/199q0Nb

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Station Master's house in Sydenham has been left to decay

Re: the Development Application by Railcorp to demolish the Station Master’s house at Sydenham & remove 21 mature trees –

I have been informed that Marrickville Council has extended the period for objections from the community until this Friday 28th January 2011.

I’ve had a look at the property. The house has been left to decay, but it doesn’t look beyond repairing.  I had expected it to look in worse repair.  Many of the trees on the property are very large & there were lots of birds.

Railcorp’s DA says it will cost $450,000 to demolish everything & remediate the soil.  With that kind of money you could renovate & keep a piece of Sydenham’s history & have change left over.  Having looked at the gorgeous & very similar in design, renovated Station Master’s house at Tempe, I think it is imperative that both the Sydenham cottage & the trees are retained.  Please consider sending in a submission.  It can be a simple statement.  We cannot keep losing our historical houses & the trees that surround them at a rate of knots.

I last wrote about this DA here – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/railcorp-the-removal-of-21-mature-trees-in-sydenham/

The Station Master's house in Tempe looks very similar in design to the one in Sydenham

Showing some of the trees to be removed at the Station Master's house in Sydenham

I have just been told of a DA submitted by Railcorp to Marrickville Council to demolish the Station Master’s house, remove 21 trees & remediate the land at 117 Railway Road Sydenham.  I cannot see any indication in the papers of what Railcorp intends to use the land for once they have cleared it & done remediation of the soil.

Problem is the removal of a lovely old Station Master’s house which means another loss of the local area’s history as well as the removal of the 21 mature trees that are on the property.

The Development Application can be downloaded here – http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/edrawer/Files/959094468/TRIM_TR_REC_1226611.PDF

If you would like to see the property & the trees, Kass Finlay McAuliffe has created a fabulous YouTube video as part of her objection.  The video shows the large amount of birds & other insects, including Monarch butterflies that populate the site.  It’s well worth a look – http://www.youtube.com/user/kassmusic#p/a/u/0/L2FzYu2gcCg

Last year, St Vincent’s de Paul in Lewisham were given permission via a DA to remove a similar amount of trees from the front of their property.  After being told that Long-Nosed Bandicoots lived in this area & with help from WIRES, St Vincent’s de Paul agreed to keep a number of their trees. Perhaps Railcorp can do the same.

Does Railcorp really need to remove all the trees from this property?  How does the removal of so many mature trees on one site fit with Marrickville Council’s Diversity Policy?

The Development Application ID is DA201000599 & the applicant is Rail Corporation Of NSW.

Unfortunately, the deadline for objections is today. A simple submission can be emailed to Marrickville Council at – council@marrickville.nsw.gov.au Thank you.

Services Committee Meeting: The Coptic Church in Sydenham. Council’s report is recommending it be demolished.  3 members of the community addressed the Councillors, petitioning to not recommend demolition.

The Marrickville Heritage Society was represented by Lorraine Beach. She spoke about the history of the church saying it was established in 1884 functioning as a Methodist Church for 100 years. The congregation in 1901 built the current church & it became home to the first Coptic Church in the late 60s.  She said the church was an asset that belonged to the whole community & is also an important link to both our history & a suburb that was obliterated by the 3rd runway. She asked Councillors to either reject demolition outright, write to Minister Albanese asking him to provide funding, do a wider community consultation & go ahead with an expression of interest campaign.  You can read her speech by clicking on the following link –  Lorraine-Beach-Address-to-Council-11-05-10 As always with my pdf docs, the last page comes first, so start at page 2 if you are reading it.

partial view of Sydenham's Coptic Church building

The second resident said the land was in the care of Council who have spent so much money towards its destruction, but no money to save it as it has been left to rot for the past 10 years.  He cited City of Sydney Council keeping its churches & asked the community be given time to save the church. He was very passionate in his concern that this church be kept for the community.

The 3rd to speak was an Anglican Bishop who said he had approached Council for a long-term lease & has been waiting for 2 years to speak to Council to indicate interest.  He thought $2.3 million was an over-estimate to restore the church & asked Council to take tenders & let the community restore it.  His advice from consulting with a construction business was that it could be restored for less than what it would cost to buy a house in the area.

window of Coptic Church Sydenham

Chair Clr Macri said he felt uncomfortable making a decision with so many Councillors being absent.  He then listed that Council had deemed the building a health risk which would cost a lot to repair, it was still sacred land & Council intended to acknowledge this with a memorial, community consultation has been performed, the state government can’t help financially & the current LEP says the building cannot be used as a church.

Clr Olive said he believed it should be retained for community use & he wasn’t elected to demolish a heritage building.  He moved a further motion to replace the tile roof with corrugated iron, replace the glass & delete the need for a lift. Staff advice cautioned about possible contravention of discrimination laws that impose accessibility obligations.  Clr Olive said it does not need to be a community building, it could be used as studio space for artists & musicians.  The upstairs studios would not have access to those with access issues & we could comply with accessibility by ensuring downstairs was accessible.  He also suggested the building be removed from Council’s Community Services to Major Projects or Technical Services.

Clr Macri said he thought the decision should be deferred & Council could look at the Bishop’s proposal.

broken windows of Sydenham's Coptic Church

Clr Phillips said he did not support demolishing the building, as there were strong arguments to keep it & it was a significant building & structurally sound.  He said he was happy to maintain it until the person with money came along & said he would like to see expressions of interest & explore options about the lift.  He thought Council had set the bar too high & no one can meet it.

Clr Byrne said she didn’t want to see the building demolished, but said Council does need to keep its obligations regarding disability & accessibility.  Clr Wright supported revisiting the issue in 2 months & supported the church groups who have consistently shown interest to resubmit.  She suggested a scaled-down version of renovations, but couldn’t support not complying with accessibility requirements.

Clr O’Sullivan supported the 2-month deferral saying the church has been one of the political stories of this Council. She said she had studied the papers back to 2006 & it is a record of stalled decisions & Councillors needed to “bite the bullet.”  She said the key issue was legislative context & Council’s responsibilities as owner or lessor.  Concerned that some may think, if they get a lease, Council will be absolved of all responsibilities & there was a distinct lack of clarity about the real issues. She said we need a realistic proposal, but was concerned when Council would have the sort of money needed for renovation. She said she valued the church & agreed with the Marrickville Heritage Society.

A man from the Gallery asked if the church roof could be fixed as it has been leaking for 8 years.

Clr Marci suggested 2-month deferral, looking at a scaled-down proposal & to hear everyone’s point of view.  Clr Olive’s motion was lost.

Clr Olive put up a second motion to write to the Federal Government, remove the responsibility for the church into Major Projects & get a further report on feasibility for use as studio, performance space or general community facility.

someone still cares for this church by painting the crosses & the sign on the entrance gate

Clr O’Sullivan was against this motion because it excluded use by a church.  Clr Phillips asked staff if there were restrictions when Council was granted control over the church saying he assumed they still applied. He suggested writing to the government to ask these restrictions be removed allowing the church to be lessors.  The Director said the current LEP restricts use as a place of worship & the new Draft LEP carries this on.  Clr Macri asked that consideration be given to allow use as a place of worship in the Draft LEP.

Clr Wright said she couldn’t support the motion if churches are not included & was uncomfortable deciding to put the building into Major Projects. Clr Byrne said she wanted the building retained & used as a functioning part of Sydney’s community. She moved an amendment that uses include a place of worship. She also said the more a decision is delayed, the more we are demolishing this building by neglect.  Seconded by Clr Wright.

The GM advised voting on assignment of responsibilities was beyond the councillor’s power.  He said the Councillors role is to charge staff with the work & staff decide which unit is assigned responsibility.

Clr Macri said Council needed the help of the community to restore the building & that Clr Byrne’s amendment allows religious groups to be users.  Clr Olive said he wanted the building to go into Major Projects because we have gone over this many times without outcome.

The amended motion was passed.  As I understand the outcome, Council will do a report looking at the extent of renovation needed to fulfil statutory requirements & put out an expression of interest to the community.  The meeting had another couple of agenda items, but I left.

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