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One of the very sweet Bandicoot scuptures at the entrance on Davis Street. This is a very classy way to raise consciousness about the environment.

One of the very sweet Long-nosed Bandicoot sculptures at the entrance on Davis Street. This is a classy way to raise consciousness about the environment.         30th August 2015 – I’ve found out that the artist’s name is Ochre Lawson.  See more of her work at – ochrelawsonart.com

More art on the back wall of the Station building. Very nice & again, a wonderful & beautiful way to connect people to their environment

More art on the back wall of the Station building. Very nice & again, a beautiful way to connect people to their environment. The Greenway is visible helping to maintain connection with the environment.

The entrance from Davis Street with the Greenway on either side.

The entrance from Davis Street with the Greenway on either side.  I was impressed with the beauty.  This is a lovely way to travel.

Recently while looking at a street tree to be removed in Davis Street Dulwich Hill I came across Waratah Mills Light Rail Station.  I think it may be the greenest leafiest railway station in Marrickville LGA.   I cannot say for sure because I have not been to all of them, but I will.

I entered from the cul-de-sac of Davis Street, which in itself is a very pretty area.  One side of Davis Street has tiered garden areas, hedges & a number of very tall trees.  Houses are on the other side & beautiful heritage Hoskins Park is across the road.  The entrance to the Waratah Mills Light Rail Station is subtle. I had no idea it was there until I was actually in the street.

The whole sculpture. I thought this was stunning,

The whole sculpture. I thought this was stunning,

There is a large attractive concrete & wood slat bench at the entrance.  On & below the bench are two small life-size sculptures of Long-nosed Bandicoots, which live in the habitat along the light rail line (called the Greenway). Long-nosed Bandicoots are critically endangered in the Inner West, so The Greenway is of extreme importance.  The sculptures are very beautiful & are a perfect example of using art as an educator.  I was impressed.  These would be a delightful sight to see on the daily commute to & from work.

Credit goes to the Inner West Environment Group & to Railcorp for creating such a beautiful area in & around the Waratah Mills Light Rail Station.

To enter the Waratah Mills Light Rail Station from Davis Street you walk along a 15-20 metre raised metal bridge.  On either side are small areas of really lovely bush.  There are lots of trees & even a nesting box is visible offering passive education about the importance of homes for wildlife.

I saw people leave the train & then lean against the railing looking at the bush for a few minutes. This must be a pleasant way to end a working day.

The Greenway volunteers have done an awesome job here.  It is obvious how wonderful it would be to have bicycle & foot access along the whole corridor from the Cooks River to Iron Cove.  Hopefully, the state government will fund The Greenway soon.  This route is needed for safe travel for cyclists/pedestrians & the benefits to the community would be even greater still with this area a green corridor full of wildlife.

The actual light rail station is very attractive & clean. Railcorp has planted many trees & native plants around the station. They have also planted trees & created verge gardens at the entry in Weston Street. It looks terrific now & in a couple of years it will look even better.

The work to green the station & surrounds clearly shows what can be done with our streets & parks.  There have been numerous recent studies proving that green environments have a positive impact on the mental & physical health of the community.  Anyone who uses this mode of transport will benefit from the green environment & this has to be applauded.

The back walls of the station buildings have images of wildlife, which add beauty, as well as educate on the importance of wildlife.   I personally love any public art that encourages people to acknowledge & respect nature & think this approach to public art is underutilized in Marrickville LGA.

There were plenty of bike racks too. I also noticed the attractive bins. They were being used because I did not see one bit of litter.  Again this shows that people are respecting the natural environment that surrounds & is a part of this rail station.

Everything about the Waratah Mills Light Rail Station screams respect for the natural environment & the wildlife that lives there.  It is a great example of how trees, plants, even a small area of bush can enhance an area & make it a lovely peaceful place to be in.  The more our municipality is made greener with trees, verge gardens & traffic islands, the nicer it will look.  Personally, I think the days of concrete as a quick solution are over. More of this please.

View of the Greenway from the bridge. This is a nice place to be.

View of the Greenway from the bridge. This is a nice place to be.

The other view of the Greenway from the bridge. The Inner West Environment Group has created something wonderful for the wildlife & for the community.

The other view of the Greenway from the bridge. The Inner West Environment Group has created something wonderful for the wildlife & for the community.

Waratah Mills Light Rail Station. You can see some of the streetscape work in Weston Street.

Waratah Mills Light Rail Station. You can see some of the streetscape work in Weston Street.

Looking at the Waratah Mills Light Rail Station

Looking at the Waratah Mills Light Rail Station.

Native plants are everywhere around the Light Rail Station,

Native plants are everywhere around the Light Rail Station,

Even the area behind the Station building have been planted with trees & native plants.

Even the area behind the Station building have been planted with trees & native plants.

Petersham Park has an elegance that should be preserved

If you put in a submission about the Petersham Park Masterplan you will have received your letter & map from Marrickville Council by now.  I hope you have a better time than I did deciphering this size 6-font map in varying shades of green.

The following outlines before & after community consultation –

  • Before: 8 of the 26 large Camphor laurel trees from the magnificent memorial avenue of trees that make the Brighton Street entrance to be removed. After: This is still happening.
  • Before: 4 of the 10 large Camphor laurels along Wentworth Street entrance to be removed.  After: This is still happening.
  • Before: 5 of the 7 large trees near the entry to the Fanny Durak Pool & the playground entrance to be removed. After: This is still happening.
  • Before:  4 of the 12 large trees along Station Street entrance to be removed. After: Council has decided to remove at least 4 extra trees.
  • Before:  7 of the 14 large trees from the boundary of West Street entrance to be removed. After: This is still happening.

The following are new additions to the Masterplan that concern trees –

  • An unidentified number of Palms in the Palm Arbor will be removed & “replaced where required.” This is not a guarantee of tree replacement.
  • Council has decided to remove 2 extra trees inside the park.
  • “Remove & reinstate ornamental trees & shrubs” in the West Street entry.
  • Regarding the Prunus near West Street – “remove existing small trees identified as being in poor health & condition & replace with ornamental tree avenues.” Council are staying with Crepe myrtle & Cape chestnuts for ornamental tree species.

Before: Council planned to remove 30 very large trees.  After: Council plans to remove 36 trees, plus an unspecified number of other trees, & shrubs. The total amount of trees to be removed is not known.

The following are new additions concerning other things in the Masterplan –

  • The 4 garden beds for the Long-nosed Bandicoots along West Street are substantially bigger.
  • An extra sandstone seat will be installed near the Station Street & West Street side of the oval.
  • The Garden bed at the end of the Wentworth Street pathway will be bigger.
  • Picnic tables will be provided near Wentworth Street.
  • The trees along Wentworth Street & Brighton Avenue will be mulched.
  • New trees in the Petersham Kindergarten should be chosen with reference to the Masterplan for the whole park.
  • Potential area identified near Station Street entry closest to the pool for gym equipment area or community garden.
  • Existing shrubs near Station Street entry closest to the pool will no longer be removed.
  • A seat will be reinstated over old slab near Station Street.
  • An ornamental planting bed near Station Street will be widened.
  • New garden beds will be planted at the exit on Station Street closest to Parramatta Road.
  • The name of the park will be reinstated on the entrance on corner of West & Station Streets.

In my opinion, the language used in the Masterplan is not very certain & asks for approval for things that are not clearly defined.   The Masterplan doesn’t provide a timeline for the removal & replacement of trees or even indicate what species the replacement trees will be, just what they might be.

I can't imagine a Eucalypt successfully replacing the canopy of any of these trees

I also question the use of Eucalypts as an option for replacing the Camphor laurels.  I sincerely love Eucalypts, but wouldn’t they look out of place within the closely planted rows of Camphor laurels? Wouldn’t Fig trees be a better choice & fit with the overall design of the park? There are a number of Fig trees in Petersham Park, but I cannot recall seeing a Eucalypt.  At the community consultation, residents said that branches falling from the current Brush box trees worried them.  Eucalypts drop branches as a natural behaviour, hence their nickname of Widow Makers.

Many of the paths need replacing & showing where trees could benefit from mulch

There are many good points about the Masterplan & much of the infrastructure like the paths & the playground are well overdue for replacement.  If colour can be added to the garden beds it will fit well with the elegance of this park.

Adding a gym area or a community garden is fabulous. I would question why both can’t be incorporated into the design instead of one or the other.  The size of the park would easily accommodate both & also meet the greater needs of the community instead of just one group.

I’m disappointed in some of the tree removal, especially the trees near the pool entrance & the avenue in West Street.  The ground around the trees near the pool can be treated for compaction & a floating floor put over the root area & under the canopy to prevent this happening again.  Soil compaction does not have to mean tree removal. It’s harder to treat this for street trees, but there are far less restrictions in a park.  Most of the trees in this area & in the Memorial Avenue suffer from bare dirt & exposed roots with no mulch. As I understand, mulching helps break up compaction as does more mechanical interventions.

Palm arbor

As for West Street, I cannot understand why what is left of the glorious avenue of trees has to be destroyed. Whether I am standing or sitting in my car I have easy visual access into & across the park. The canopy is so high it would only prevent a giant from having a good sightline into the park.  Removing half of the trees along here would mean that more of the noise, pollution & particulate matter would get into the park. Trees are very important in removing air pollution. West Street is a heavy traffic road & Petersham Park is just 1 small block away from the major thoroughfare of Parramatta Road. To remove trees from a park that serves as the lungs of an area just to have better sight lines doesn’t make sense to me.

The Petersham Park Masterplan returns to Council Meeting on 12th April for approval. The community can request to speak on this agenda item, but you need to register by noon the previous day.  Plans can be downloaded on Council’s website – http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/ They were not available at the time of posting.

I made a short video of Petersham Park & the trees here –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIKH59R7BnE & I last wrote about the Masterplan here – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/petersham-park-masterplan/

Looking across the oval toward Station Street

 

 

 

 

Quite an impact

I had been hearing reports that devastation had happened in front of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Lewisham so we went to have a look for ourselves.  The visual impact to the area is phenomenal. What once was a beautiful stretch of trees along both sides of busy West Street is now a wide gaping hole that looks like a scar.

The lovely historical buildings of St Vincent de Paul Society that front West Street are for the most part brick & sandstone.  In recent years, St Vincent de Paul Society erected a grey glass & steel edifice that is not sympathetic to the surrounding buildings. Things like this are personal taste & I am sure they are happy with the result.  The 31 trees that once fronted this site softened this new building & matched the older buildings.  Together with the trees on the periphery of Petersham Park they created a green corridor along West Street as you came off Parramatta Road.

It is not just the local people who treasure the St Vincent de Paul Society site. I remember when I first saw it in the early 80s when it was still Lewisham Hospital. My reaction was one of stunned, “Wow! This place is gorgeous!”  The many magnificent trees that made up front garden combined with the obviously historical buildings made a strong impression on me.

This gorgeous tree dwarfing the stone arch once provided a grand entrance to the St Vincent de Paul Society complex

Buildings can be beautiful on their own, but most of the time it is the trees that create an atmosphere of wellbeing.  As an example I give the ‘Prayer Garden’ within the St Vincent de Paul Society grounds. I don’t know what this area is called, but it is certainly meant for prayer & contemplation because of the life-size-statue of Jesus, the trees, the landscaping & even the graves tucked into a corner.  If you removed all the trees from this area, it would no longer be a place of contemplation & peace. It would simply be open space between buildings.  This is precisely what has happened at the front of the St Vincent de Paul Society site on West Street.

31 large & mature trees, many with massive trunks, have been removed.  This has exposed the buildings, which now look slightly foreboding, especially the newest grey/glass building.  I acknowledge that this is a matter of personal perception & this is mine.

In place of the trees is a black bitumen driveway & parking spaces. This choice of surface will increase the heat island effect making the area & the buildings hotter in summer.  At the far right there were a grove of Melaleucas & some very big & beautiful Eucalypts that framed the stone arch entrance. They too have gone.  The car park does not come to this area so removing these trees appears to have been done simply to facilitate the rebuilding of the fence.  If St Vincent de Paul Society had wanted to, engineers could have easily replaced the fence & kept the trees.

Instead, the place has been cleared.  Nice little Banksias & Crepe Myrtles have now been planted at wide intervals with other low landscaping plants in a garden bed along the completed section of the new fence.

In my opinion, Marrickville Council let the community down when they passed this DA.  Even though the trees were on private property, the type of property it is means that it has had a long & active history with the community.  The trees were part of the fabric of this Lewisham street & were part of what made Lewisham special.  Most people know of this complex, even if they do not know of its new name & purpose.  What they remember is the beautiful old buildings & the trees.  Question is, are trees valuable enough to be classified part of a community’s history?  I think so, but I am not so naïve to not think that others would disagree with me.

The St Vincent de Paul Society complex is on a main thoroughfare, one block from Parramatta Road. The tall trees with their wide trunks & significant canopy captured & stored much CO2 & particulate matter from passing traffic, preventing this from going into the complex itself, but also further afield into the local community.

The before shot shows the Bandicoot habitat

Then there are the Long-nosed Bandicoots, those small little animals that are classified as ‘endangered species’ & that call this particular patch home.  The presence of Bandicoots is another reason why Marrickville Council should not have passed this DA.   Endangered Species rely on our Councils to preserve & manage their habitat.

The Department of Climate Change, Environment & Water were aghast when I spoke to them last year about the removal of the Long-nosed Bandicoots’ habitat.  I last heard that WIRES was negotiating with St Vincent de Paul Society to retain some habitat so the Bandicoots could continue to survive.  I will contact WIRES to ask what happened.

Marrickville Council now needs to plant street trees on the footpath outside the St Vincent de Paul Society complex.  What is left is a 100 metre long desolate space that is hot, very

A family of Kookaburras lives on the site

windy & not good to look at. It is also noisy as the traffic sounds now bounce back from the buildings. whereas before it was much quieter because the trees muffled the traffic noise.  There are no overhead cables & the footpath is 3 metres wide so tall-growing large canopy trees can be planted.  It would be good if sections of cement could be removed to make long patches of garden greenspace.

It’s difficult to comment about tree removal on private property, though in this case the trees were an integral part of the streetscape & provided habitat for an Australian native animal that has been classified as an endangered species.

There were many in the community who sincerely thought that St Vincent de Paul Society would keep the trees on the far right of the front of the complex for the Bandicoots, especially as they knew the community were very concerned about the loss of their habitat.

I know of a few people who are devastated by the loss of these trees & by how desolate the streetscape of their neighbourhood now looks.  A great chunk of our urban forest has gone & there may be more as I understand St Vincent de Paul Society intend to remove other large Eucalypts throughout the complex.

I have put up a 1.27-minute YouTube of the front of the St Vincent de Paul Society & the streetscape here if you are interested – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJeDogZyHyM

I last wrote about this DA here –  https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/02/08/lewisham-is-about-to-lose-32-mature-healthy-trees/

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