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Red-rumped parrots at Tempe Reserve

Red-rumped parrots at Tempe Reserve

Marrickville Council is holding community consultation about the future of the parklands along the Cooks River. The parks are Mahoney Reserve, Steel Park, Warren Park, Richardson’s Lookout, Cooks River Foreshore Park, Mackey Park, Kendrick Park & Tempe Recreation Reserve.

DATES IN OCTOBER –

  • Sunday 19th October 2014 – Feedback about all the riverside parks at Council’s stall at the Marrickville Festival tomorrow.
  • Thursday 23rd October 2014 – Feedback about Mahoney Reserve.  Meet at the Debbie & Abbey Borgia Centre – 5.30pm-7.30pm.
  • Tuesday 28th October 2014 – Feedback about Steel Park.  Meet at the Debbie & Abbey Borgia Centre – 5.30pm-7.30pm.

DATES IN NOVEMBER –

  • Sunday 1st November 2014 – Feedback about Mahoney Reserve.  Meet in the park 8am-12 noon.
  • Wednesday 5th November 2014 – Feedback about Warren Park, Richardson’s Lookout & the Cooks River Foreshore Park.  Meet at the Debbie & Abbey Borgia Centre 5.30pm-7.30pm
  • Sunday 8th November 2014 – Feedback about Steel Park.  Meet in the park 8am-12 noon.
  • Thursday 13th November 2014 – Feedback about Mackey Park.  Meet at Herb Greedy Hall, Petersham Road Marrickville 5pm-7pm.
  • Saturday 15th November 2014 Feedback about Warren Park, Richardson’s Lookout & the Cooks River Foreshore Park.  Meet in Warren Park 8am-12 noon.
  • Wednesday 19th November 2014 – Feedback about Kendrick Park.  Meet at St Peter’s Town Hall, Unwins Bridge Road Sydenham 5pm-7pm.
  • Saturday 22nd November 2014 – Feedback about Mackey Park.  Meet in the park 8am-12 noon.
  • Saturday 29th November 2014 – Feedback about Kendrick Park.  Meet in the park 8am-12 noon.
Mahoney Reserve Marrickville

Mahoney Reserve Marrickville

Steel Park Marrickville

Steel Park Marrickville

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The fantastic & much loved row of Poplar trees at Mackey Park.  On the left are the two Mackey Park Fig trees.

The fantastic & much loved row of Poplar trees at Mackey Park. On the left are the two Mackey Park Fig trees.

The Macky Park Poplars from across the river.  All the Poplar trees along the river can be seen from some distance.  I believe they are iconic to Marrickville's section of the Cooks River.

The Mackey Park Poplars from across the river. All the Poplar trees along the river can be seen from some distance. I believe they are iconic to Marrickville’s section of the Cooks River.

I reported on a number of occasions about Council’s intention to remove the poplar trees at Mackey Park.  I first heard this from a staff member at the opening of the Mackey Park on 9th December 2010.

I wrote, These trees are being considered for the chopping block because there is belowground infrastructure here & because the soil is poor.  I don’t know enough about the issues to present an argument at this stage.  Just be aware that Council is thinking of removing them.”    I have waited & waited.

In December 2010 a Poplar tree between Mackey Park & Steel Park lost a large branch due to boring insect damage.  I was told this tree was to be removed, but somehow it is still standing there today. See –http://bit.ly/1dneE7L

In January 2011 I wrote about the problem on boring insects affecting the trees of Mahoney Reserve.  Boring insects had also made their way almost to Mackey Park evident by the previous month’s limb drop.  See – http://bit.ly/1cOo9B6

In November 2012  – I mentioned again the planned removal of the poplar trees at Mackey Park.  See  – http://bit.ly/1dYWAkd

Yesterday, 3rd February 2014, a post was made on Facebook about the rumour of the removal the Poplars at Mackey Park.  I contributed what I had previously been told by Council.  The discussion clearly expressed community opposition to the removal of these trees.

Here is the great news –

Marrickville Council posted on Facebook –

“I’m very happy to let you know that Council has no plans to remove these trees at Mackey Park.

There are plans to remove approx six poplars at HJ Mahoney Reserve around May/June this year. An independent arborist has assessed that they have a significant amount of internal decay and are dropping limbs. Council is currently undertaking consultation with the Cooks River and Environment Committee and will be seeking broader community comment closer to the date.

Please know that the ONLY reason council would consider removing a tree is if it poses a risk to life or property, leaf drop or messy characteristics are never a consideration for removal.  We LIKE trees – honest! Our aim is to increase the canopy.” 

After 3-years of waiting I can now not feel any angst when I ride under these trees as I often do.

I am hoping Council takes it a step further though, as it appears that boring insects have affected a number of the Poplars.  This infestation is treatable, so to my mind, it is a good use of money to do what can be done to save the trees, than allow these destructive insects to continue their travels through the golf course and up through to Mackey Park.

When these six trees Council mentioned are removed it will make a loss of twelve Poplar trees in Mahoney Reserve since 2010.  I think an urgent investment is needed to plant at least the number lost, so that the particular unique & iconic qualities that the Poplars scheme creates along the river is maintained in the long term.  Sparse canopy gum trees will not have the same spectacular & beneficial effect as Poplars at that location.

The Poplars at Mahoney Reserve - a feature of the Cooks River

The Poplars at Mahoney Reserve – a unique feature of the Cooks River

Next door to Mahoney Reserve is Steel Park.  The Poplar trees make a massive contribution to both the beauty & experience of this park.

Next door to Mahoney Reserve is Steel Park. The Poplar trees make a massive contribution to both the beauty & experience of this park.

There is an avenue of Poplar trees in a section between Mackey Park & Steel Park.  These trees make it a joy to be in this area.

There is an avenue of Poplar trees in a section between Mackey Park & Steel Park. These trees make it a joy to be in this area.

 

 

Scattered all over the huge area of playing fields at Tempe Reserve are plastic drinking bottles left behind by players after the game has finished. This happens after every game.

Twenty bottles & a cigarette packet – this is only one pile of plastic drink bottles left on the side of one field on the playing fields of Tempe Reserve.  There were many other plastic bottles strewn elsewhere on the playing fields & this happens all the time.  What is it with this park that people trash it so much?

The plastic bag that contained one of the players uniform was being blown towards the Alexandra Canal only metres away.

I even chased a massive plastic bag rolling across the playing fields that had contained the uniform of one of the players.    Within 3 minutes at the most, this bag would have been in the Alexandra Canal starting a journey of destruction.

I don’t understand why the players do this. I also don’t think it is the job of Marrickville Council staff to pick up the vast amounts of litter left behind after each game – unless of course, this service comes as part of the hiring fees – which I doubt.

Next stop on our bike ride was Mackey Park, which is always left spotless by the clubs.  Mackey Park gets just as much use by the clubs as do the playing fields of Tempe Reserve.

As fate would have it, I crossed paths with one of the managers of the Canterbury & Western Suburbs Cricket Association.  He kindly answered a number of my questions telling me that the Club ensures that all the Club Secretaries & the Captains know to tell all players (7yrs – adult) that they must clean up after themselves & leave no litter behind.  Leaving a mess behind may affect the Club’s ability to hire the park in the future.  Cleaning up after oneself is seen as mandatory for being a member & the Clubs reinforce this message with their players often.

I commend the Canterbury & Western Suburbs Cricket Association for this as they leave the park spotless for the community & for the wildlife that use Mackey Park.

The soccer clubs that use Mackey Park at nights & on weekends do not leave litter behind either.  So what is happening with the Clubs that use Tempe Reserve?

It’s a terrible message to give young people that they can simply leave their garbage behind when it has such a negative impact on the environment, especially with the river so close.  The players need to respect the park & use one of the numerous garbage bins provided by Council or take their garbage home.

Maybe Marrickville Council should think about intervening.  One idea is to oblige clubs to read out a short message about respect to the environment to players before each game & the Captains required to ensure all litter is removed before anyone leaves.

This was Mackey Park today just as the cricket players were leaving. Zero litter was left behind.

This is what we all should be doing with the environment – sporting clubs included.  I can’t credit the photo as I don’t know its source.

 

The little green shapes are a flock of Red Rumped parrots eating the grass seeds on the playing fields of Tempe Reserve. There were at least 80 birds eating here just yesterday, though they were impossible to photograph as a group. If this area is covered with synthetic turf these & other birds will lose this important food source.

Following on from Part 1 http://bit.ly/K54Jvr Marrickville Council has released its Recreation Needs Research Strategy for public comment.  Only 1.27% of the population participated in the community consultation opportunities. The results are now up on ‘Your Say Marrickville’ & the community is being asked to comment by 6th June 2012. 

Council also wants to do “synthetic conversions of sports field open space to increase usability,” & for Tempe Reserve, introduce synthetic surfaces on the vast area of playing fields.  I do not want synthetic surfaces used anywhere in the LGA, least of all in Tempe Reserve.

Playing fields are not just used by sporting people.  A range of birds such as Magpies, Red Rumped parrots, Magpie Larks, White-Faced Herons, Masked lapwings & Australian Ibis use the playing fields as a food source by either eating the grass-seed or by digging for worms & other small insects. To cover such a large expanse in plastic will not only kill off all living things, including microbes, but will also remove an important food source for a population of birds already stressed by lack of habitat.

If Marrickville Councillors approve the plans to convert 9-holes of the current 18-hole Marrickville Golf Course into playing fields they will also likely cover that area with synthetic turf further removing another major food source & habitat area for wildlife.  See – http://bit.ly/K54Jvr

Synthetic turf will create further problems when it rains allowing all the rubbish, including plastic bottles, to wash into the Cooks River.  I’ve stood in Tempe Reserve & watched litter wash over the grass & into the Cooks River. It will be much easier with synthetic turf.

Covering sporting fields with synthetic turf will allow Marrickville Council to get much more money from hiring out the fields because they can lease the fields year round, but it will be done at great cost to the environment & the rest of the community. It should not happen & I am appalled that it has even been suggested.

The following information comes from an excellent article on synthetic turf (1MB) from – http://www.lawndoctor.com.au/images/userfiles/file/synthetic%20grass.doc

Briefly, the problems with synthetic turf are –

  • It is made from petroleum products ie. recycled car tyres & frequently contains heavy metals such as lead, aluminium, chromium, copper & sulphur.
  • Making the turf produces carbon, while ordinary grass removes carbon from the atmosphere.
  • It smells like old tyres.
  • It is laid on road base so gets very hot. On a hot day artificial turf can be up to 50% hotter then natural turf, so it contributes to the urban heat island effect.  Granulated rubber is brushed into the synthetic grass after it is laid.  Playing on this sort of heat can’t be good for players.
  • It causes turf-burn sports injury.
  • It needs to be washed with a cleaning liquid to maintain shine & to disinfect from substances such as blood, spit, urine, vomit, food, beverages & animal excreta weekly during use.  This water then goes into the surrounding environment.
  • It has a life span of 10-years & then goes to landfill.
  • Any air-born weeds that take hold need to be sprayed with weed killers & the chemical stays on the artificial turf.

I think these are more than enough reasons why installing synthetic turf is not a good idea.  There is plenty more studies to show that communities have stopped using the product because of the problems associated with it.

Council says Tempe Reserve has “poor drainage & dangerous surfaces by sports users & careful consideration needs to taken to ensure that this large area of multi use open space is maximised.”  The $300,000 Mackey Park upgrade used sand under the field as part of the drainage system.  More work on the fields was done on at least 2 occasions shortly after completion.  The grass species they used is fragile & deteriorates very quickly. The ground is uneven with holes in the sand making even a walker be aware of where they are stepping.

A soccer Dad & friend said that the field was too soft & more suitable to a professional pitch that endures less games, as opposed to a community park with more frequent games as the pitch can’t recover from frequent damage.

One thing that alarmed me about the upgrade of Mackey Park is when I noticed the lack of wildlife.  Prior to the upgrade this park had hundreds of birds on the fields mornings & afternoons when there were no games, including White-Faced Herons. Now it is almost devoid of wildlife as really, very little can live in dry sand.   I would not like this to happen for other sporting fields.

Marrickville Council’s Biodiversity Plan strives to increase habitat & biodiversity, yet their planned upgrades of huge areas by covering them with synthetic turf will remove even greater areas of food source for wildlife. This does not fit with Council’s aim to increase biodiversity.

More trees around the perimeter of the sporting fields of Tempe Reserve are needed. Trees will not impact on the ability to play sports, but will offer much needed shade for spectators & provide a buffer for the wind that often makes this park a miserable place to be.  Trees will also provide food & habitat for wildlife.

You can download the Recreation Needs Research Strategy & leave comments online here – http://yoursaymarrickville.com.au/your-say-marrickville?module=guest_book#tool

Council offers a summary of the Recreation Needs Research Strategy, but this doesn’t discuss the finer points.  I will write more about the other issues of interest in Part 3.

This is a Google map of Tempe Reserve. The park is surrounded on 3 sides by the Cooks River.      I’ve left the housing in to give an idea of how large this park is.   The pink space is the playing fields & where Marrickville Council are suggesting should be covered in synthetic turf. It is opaque so you can see the marks of the actual fields. The turquoise areas are all the hard surfaces – roads, concrete footpaths, bitumen roads & car parks & the buildings (Jets Sporting Club & the Robyn Webster Sports Centre, plus 2 toilet blocks).   Although the map is old, the trees are essentially the same.   The remaining spaces are lawn grass, except for landscaping (mainly long grasses with some small shrubs), the saltwater wetland & a large triangle of long grasses next to the wetland. If the sporting fields are covered with synthetic turf I believe that more than half the park will be hard surfaces.

Tonight is soccer training night at Mackey Park & I received a request to report on two issues.

There are now 2 nice park benches for spectators

First, the positive one. Marrickville Council has installed two park benches near the trees along the Richardson Crescent side of Mackey Park. This is a nice & very needed addition to the amenity of the park. The benches will go some way toward providing comfort to the families that watch games & training sessions or those who want to have a rest in the shade.

Second, the not so positive one. Some in the community have told me, & I personally observed, that Council is removing the support stakes from some of the trees planted in last year’s planting season.  We have observed that, after the supports are removed, some of the young trees are falling over in the wind.  At Mackey Park most of the new trees have been planted in a secure frame. These are thriving.  Two of the young Gums near the clubhouse were not in frames, but were supported only by stakes.  Council has recently removed the stakes & there is a 50% failure:  One of the two Gums, which is about 1.2 metres tall, has bent over badly after the wind & is in serious risk of snapping. It needs emergency attention to re-stake it or provide a frame for it, so that we do not lose a valuable one-year’s growth & another tree.

While I understand that Council may be removing stakes from young trees in order to reuse them & save money, I think it is false economy when the outcome is a high percentage of young tree failure. Please Marrickville Council, save this young tree before it is too late. It would be good if stakes for young trees could be left a while longer.  Some stakes & tree protection stay in place for some years. Why do some others need to be removed so early in the life of a tree?

The trunk hasn't broken yet, but the tree needs help quickly if it is to survive.

I went to Peace Park in Chippendale this week to speak with a friend.  We didn’t stay because the park was full of people & all the seats were taken.  This isn’t a whinge. For a

These are the team seats & the only seating outside the play ground

small park it is a lovely area, full of seats & full of shade.  It was not surprising that people chose to leave their homes or workplace & come & sit in the park.  We just were not early enough.

It made me think of the number of people who have spoken to me of late about the lack of seating in Mackey Park or along the Cooks River.  Sorry Marrickville Council, but they are not happy.  Various people have approached me & said the following –

“I can’t take my 72-year old mum down to Mackey Park because there is nowhere she can sit.  She doesn’t want to sit in the playground.”

“I’ve seen old ladies sitting on the ground. Why aren’t there any benches?”

“You can’t sit anywhere along the Cooks River & watch the water go by.”

“Two little benches is not enough for the clubs. These are not even enough for two teams & there is usually more than one game at the park at the one time.”

“Where are the families watching their kids’ games going to sit?”

“It’s hot. There are no trees near the fields.”

“Mackey Park was better 10 years ago.  The older people used to come down to the park & socialize.”

“They don’t want the community to use the park.”

“Why aren’t there any shrubs on the embankment? It looks too bare.”

I vacillated about writing about this as Mackey Park is the golden project at the moment & a lot of money has been spent.  I didn’t want to be seen as ungrateful & picking holes in the work that had been done. But too many people asked when was I going to write about this.

Personally I think the work that has been done is great, especially the wetland.  I love that we still have the Mackey Park Figs & that herons, ibis, ravens & ducks have moved in.  I like that the community can still walk through the park to Tempe Railway Station & they are not shoved out to navigate Richardsons Crescent as was the original plan.  I like that 2 Eucalypts have been planted on the verge at Carrington Road. I also like the playground & think it is far better than what was previously there.

Mackey Park sign

However, I have to agree that there needs to be seating around the fields for players, coaches, parents, any onlookers as well as use by the general community. A lot of people come to this park when there are soccer games &  practice is on.  I also think that tall growing shade producing trees could be planted around the perimeter of the park.

I think that some benches & tables could be placed near other shade trees, but close enough to the road for people to meet & talk with their friends.  I very much believe that there needs to be a number of benches at intervals along & facing the Cooks River where there is a break in the mangroves & the river can be seen.

It’s wonderful that money was spent on Mackey Park, but there is serious community debate as to whether the infrastructure is sufficient for both the players & the community.  When I suggested that people should contact Council & tell them themselves, I was told that this was my role, to speak for them in this case.

So Marrickville Council, how about planting some shade producing trees, putting in some more seating & a couple of tables?  And maybe some ground-covering Grevilleas to cover up the bare earth & provide food for the birds on the embankment & add some colour & beauty?  I think these things will make a lot of people happy.

I have posted a 1.14 minute YouTube video for those who are interested – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEyWqiLv3L8

Part of the embankment at Mackey Park

Flags surrounded the park, there was a large crowd & the Red Devils tested the turf

There was a red carpet on the grounds of Mackey Park this afternoon for the official reopening of the $3.1 million refurbishment.  $2.2 million was a grant from the federal government & Marrickville Council made up the remainder of the money.

The money has been well spent as much has been achieved that will benefit the community for years to come. The park looks wonderful.

Anthony Albanese Member for Grayndler (centre) surrounded by (L-R) Deputy Mayor Iskandar, President of Red Devils Soccer Club, Clr Olive, Mayor Byrne, Clr O'Sullivan, Clr Tsardoulias & the Red Devils

The contaminants have been removed from the soil & the fields have been redesigned.  A drainage system has been put underneath the fields that will collect water & take it to a filtering system next to the newly constructed wetlands. There the water will be naturally cleaned & then directed underground to water storage tanks situated next to the playground. The recycled water will be used to irrigate the grass fields.  Excess water will feed the new wetlands & cleaned. Any overflow will travel to the canal beside the park before entering the Cooks River.

(L-R) Clr O'Sullivan, Deputy Mayor Iskandar, Marrickville Council General Manager Ken Gainger, Anothony Albanese MP, Marrickville Mayor Byrne & Clr Olive

Mackey Park used to get quite boggy in some areas so the below ground drainage system will prevent this ensuring the grass has greater longevity & need less maintenance.

I have never seen the fields look so level. The cricket pitch is a strip of thick Astroturf, which should make it quite durable. There are pop-up water sprinklers that can be turned on for the areas that need watering.

Solar panels on Council’s depot building at Sydenham will offset the power Mackey Park will use.

The children’s playground is totally new & judging by watching the children today, it is already a success.  This playground will be much used by the families who come to watch their children play sports as well as the local community.

The club house/amenities building has also undergone a refurbishment. There are new shade structures & a new fence between the playing fields & the playground.  The 3-people-wide pedestrian path flows in front of the playground & alongside Richardsons Crescent before exiting opposite Tempe Railway Station.

Mackey Park Fig trees

A number of people mentioned the Mackey Park Figs saying that they were pleased to see these lovely trees still standing.  I once again thank both the community & the Greens & Labor Councillors for saving these trees.

I did notice that the embankment of Mackey Park that borders Richardsons Crescent looks less populated by trees. I can’t actually say that any trees have been removed. Perhaps the undergrowth has been cleaned out. What this work did reveal was another young Hills Fig in this area that I have not noticed before, bringing the total to 2 Figs on the embankment & 4 for the whole park.  I’d like Council to consider planting another couple of Fig trees along the embankment because there certainly is room to allow them to grow naturally. They would help stabilize the bank, provide a decent buffer to traffic, sight & noise & wouldn’t affect either Richardsons Crescent or the playing fields.  They would also add visual beauty as well as provide food & habitat for birds & bats.

Marrickville Council has done a wonderful job on Mackey Park.  There are many great aspects to the refurbishment.  It will serve the community & the sporting clubs well.

The opening was great. The speeches were good. The mood was up. Everyone was happy.  Even the rain held off after threatening to storm all day.

Part of the new wetlands at Mackey Park

 

This week’s Council meeting was the Land Use, Assets & Corporate Committee Meeting. The following is how I understood the meeting. I have not included items that did not attract full debate. Any mistakes are mine.

1. Local Traffic Committee Advisory Meeting:

Old RSL site Illawarra Road Marrickville. The Traffic Committee recommended the DA “be supported in its present form, given that there are no significant adverse impacts on traffic or parking.” The DA proposes 180 residential units with 171 parking spaces

Now empty Marrickville RSL building on Illawarra Road looking down Byrnes Road

for residents, visitors & shoppers. The developer amended the DA removing the supermarket, using smaller trucks & moving the loading bay to Byrnes Street.

A resident who spoke against the report said she has collected 1,114 signatures against the DA from the local community who are concerned with the bulk, height & scale of the development & believe it will bring significant traffic onto already congested Illawarra Road.  She said Council was underestimating traffic movement in & out of the development & living next to railway stations did not mean people didn’t own cars. She spoke about the current parking difficulties saying many patrons of the previous RSL either walked or came by courtesy bus or taxis.

Clr O’Sullivan put up an alternative motion: that the Councillors note that the Traffic Committee believes there will be no problems with parking, but the Councillors advise the JRPP Secretariat of residents’ concerns regarding the validity of traffic projections contained in the applicants traffic study & request that any consent conditions have minimal or no impact on surrounding streets.

Clr O’Sullivan expressed concern about traffic saying Councillors are dependent on our Officers as Secretariat of JRPP to determine a sensitive, future-orientated response to the DA & talking about traffic is different from experiencing it.

Clr Thanos opposed the amended motion saying that it didn’t achieve anything because Council staff had assessed the traffic impact & believed there will be no traffic impacts & the motion was misleading to Council staff, residents & JRPP.  He asked whether the motion was asking staff to change their minds & felt the JRPP will ignore a motion like this.   He spoke about providing housing around transport nodes saying no one owns parking spaces on public streets & the number of cars people choose to own is their decision.

Fire Wheel flowers

Clr Olive said he agreed with a lot of what Clr Thanos said, but he also thought there were valid points in the amended motion & would be supporting it.  He said even though staff have made recommendations, this doesn’t mean we can’t make things better.  He spoke about looking at traffic minimalisation by placement of driveways, entrances, sizes of entrances as examples & thought the report was coming from the position of looking at the previous DA.  He said Councillors should be expressing the community’s concerns so the JRPP can look at the issue closely.

Clr Phillips supported the amended motion saying it highlights the problem of the JRPP being the decision maker instead of Councils & it’s important for Councillors to voice their concerns.  He was not convinced there will be no impact on traffic & reminded that there will be further development in this area.

Clr Peters reminded everyone that the JRPP just approved a development at the Newtown RSL site that is to be a 66-room hotel, RSL Club, retail with only 17 parking spaces.

Clr O’Sullivan said that her motion was minimalist in that it only takes into account the traffic &, though she agreed with much of what Clr Thanos said, she said Councillors were representing the community’s interest for both the short & long term. She said the JRPP took heed of community concerns regarding the Tempe Depot development.  Carried with Clr Thanos against.

– Mobility Parking spaces – One was approved in Terminus St Petersham & another rejected in Lymerston St Tempe because there was a space within 10 metres of the property.  Clr Thanos said that every time someone wants a parking space, they claim disability. He said if it were important to the resident, they would have come to speak at the meeting.  The Director recommended that the refusals be referred back to the Traffic Committee following proper procedure to prevent any appeal. Carried with Clrs Thanos & Peters against.

2. Report on Marrickville Transport Planning & Advisory Committee 20 May 2010 – Clr Tsardoulias said he had questions regarding the position of stops on the Light Rail.  Clr Byrne said she was disappointed Railcorp is not providing a public toilet in the ‘unpaid’ area of Newtown Railway Station & hoped they would drop the access fee regarding airport access as this will increase use of public transport to the airport.  Clr Thanos said he thought the access fee would not be dropped, mentioning that Airport Services use Council’s parking spaces at Tempe for their own employees. Carried.

3. Council Infrastructure for investment for Healthy, Safe & Happy Children’s Home/School Journeys – Council surveyed schools & families regarding the pedestrian routes used to travel to school seeking to learn about obstacles/problems that made this difficult or unsafe with the aim to create child-friendly routes.

Clr Byrne was unhappy that Tempe High School, Tempe Primary School & St Peters Public School were not included in the survey.  Clr Olive agreed with the direction of the report, but wanted it noted that Council was not proposing an increase in the budget for this.  He said people were expressing excitement about what they thought would happen, but in reality Council won’t be able to do much in the next 10 years.  He gave the cost of a traffic light at $120,000 as an example. He said he was not against increasing the budget for this.  Motion carried.

4. Floodplain Management Advisory Committee Meeting report April 2010 – recommending the report be adopted, especially the Eastern Channel Flood Study.   Clr O’Sullivan mentioned the substantial risk of flooding in Marrickville & St Peters industrial areas.  Clr Phillips mentioned climate change & extreme rain events citing Kogarah coast & Mackey Park deemed at risk.  He said the science around climate change is changing rapidly with scientists thinking there will be a sea rise of 1-2 metres this century so did not want to see this study predicated on a ½ metre sea rise.

Clr Olive asked how much it was going to cost & whether Council would be approaching the state & federal governments for money.  The Director said he did not know at this stage.  Carried unanimously.

5. Membership of Wollongong City Council of Westpool & United Independent Pools – public liability, professional indemnity, personal accident, motor vehicle, property & travel insurance.

Clr Phillips expressed concern admitting a Council into an insurance scheme that doesn’t have a good track record.  A staff member advised extensive due diligence was undertaken by 3 Pools leading up to Wollongong Council requesting to join & all 3 Pools were concerned about Wollongong Council’s application, especially around professional indemnity insurance. The only exposure Marrickville Council will have concerns motor vehicles & property. Clr Phillips was happy with this. Carried unanimously.

6. Council investments at 30 April 2010, Changes to Code of Meeting Practice, Update on status of petitions & Status update, Councillor Conferences, Outstanding Reports, Action Arising from Notice of Motions & Mayoral Minutes were dealt with together.

Gum flowers

Clr Peters asked about the workshops & expert external input regarding Marrickville Council’s Urban Forest Program & whether it was still Council’s intention to provide this to Councillors.  The Director said Councillors would have a conference at the end of June & a draft is ready to put to Council. Clr Phillips said she recalled a motion by Clr O’Sullivan last February that Councillors would be given education workshops & external input regarding  tree management & now we will be getting the plan without the workshops.  The Director said Council can do this.  All items carried.

I remember discussion previously was to provide Councillors with training workshop about the issues surrounding greening the LGA. The emphasis was on getting external experts to provide an alternative view to removing 1,000 trees per year for the next 5 years that was recommended in February 2010.  It appears to me that the Trees Strategy Issues  Paper is being brought back to the Councillors with a new name: The Urban Forest Plan & training for Councillors on this issue is no longer suggested  by staff.

7. Rescission motion by Clr Macri regarding previous decision to put 2 restricted parking spaces on Marrickville Rd Marrickville. Clr Marcri said Councillors did not follow usual procedure, there was no support from the community for the motion & the numbers were against any changes.  He said the issue should have gone through the proper channels back to the Traffic Committee.

Clr Hanna said businesses in Marrickville Road had difficulty keeping staff because of parking fines. He mentioned that some councilors thought the $10 fee for parking in the Frampton St car park was too cheap, whereas Leichhardt Council provides it free. Clr Phillips said the café owner asked for 2 parking spaces, the process was transparent & if there are complaints from the community he would be happy to revisit the issue.  Clr Macri said it was about democracy, that the survey was heavily against any parking restriction, it should have been advertised & taken to the Traffic Committee.  Clrs Macri, Hanna, Tsardoulias & O’Sullivan voted to rescind.  The rescission motion was lost & the meeting concluded.

Next was the Services Committee Meeting.

8. Branch Operational Costs –  Clr Thanos declared a particular interest in libraries saying Council should saving money now to get a new library with many services up & running soon. To do this he believed some libraries in the LGA would need to be closed. Clr Phillips said he wouldn’t support closing libraries, but said there could be a new library at the Marrickville Hospital site when it was developed.  Clr Byrnes was against closing libraries saying they provide many more services to the community than simply book loans. Clr Hanna didn’t support closing libraries yet, but said he would once a new library was built.  Carried.

9.  Review of Major Community Events & Community Cultural Events Programs

gorgeous bark

Motion moved to defer item until Mayor Iskandar returns from his Sister Cities visits  because he has had significant input & should be able to contribute. Clr Thanos supported deferral & said he will be voting against all events in preference for having money for a new library. Clr Olive said he was unhappy that the Cooks River Festival has gone to Canterbury Council & would be arguing for Council’s retention & involvement in this festival.  He said both the Council & the Cooks River Committee’s involvement have been instrumental in good things happening at the Cooks River. Clrs Tsardoulias, Peters, Kontellis against motion to defer. Carried.

Here ends Report from the Gallery for this week.

1.        Environmental groups plan to protest to stop National Parks in NSW being developed for tourism by private development consortiums TOMORROW 2nd June 2010 outside Parliament House, Macquarie Street Sydney at 12 noon . The web-site of the Colong Foundation goes into the issue of development of National Parks in detail. http://www.colongwilderness.org.au/tourism/Stop_exploitation_of_national_parks.htm

2.        East Sydney residents are protesting against the RTAs plans to drop the creation of a garden at the corner of Bourke & Stanley streets around the Eastern Distributor chimneystack & instead, rezone the land for residential units. http://sydney-central.whereilive.com.au/news/story/east-sydney-locals-fuming-with-rta/

3.        The Sydney Botanical Gardens Trust have been given the go-ahead from the Federal Environment Department to use noise dispersal & water spraying to remove the grey-headed flying foxes, a threatened species, from the Gardens.  Respected conservation groups were against the proposal to remove the bats from the gardens.  For background see  https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/03/24/sydney’s-royal-botanic-gardens-trust-wants-‘threatened-species’-bats-banished/

http://sydney-central.whereilive.com.au/news/story/sydney-botanic-gardens-bats-will-be-harmed-by-removal-conservationists/

http://sydney-central.whereilive.com.au/news/story/bats-to-get-ear-bashing-at-sydney-botanic-gardens/

http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/journal/syndeys-bats-to-get-the-boot.htm

4.         Vandals destroyed more than 40 mature trees in Patterson Lakes & Moorabbin in May 2010.  The trees were planted to replace other trees vandalized 18 months previously. http://moorabbin-kingston-leader.whereilive.com.au/news/story/trees-butchered-in-outrageous-attack-at-patterson-lakes-moorabbin/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

5.        I’ve previously posted about the battle by the community who are against a DA for a new Woolworths supermarket at Newport. To date Pittwater Council has received 1,353 submissions from the community, most against the DA.  The community fears that local shopping strips will be lost when the Woolworths giant moves in. There is a similar concern with the proposed Marrickville Metro development. http://manly-daily.whereilive.com.au/news/story/room-for-improvement-woolies/

6.        More than 100 people attended a protest at the ADI site mid May 2010 including State Opposition Environment Spokeswoman Catherine Cusack, Liberal candidate for Londonderry Bart Bassett, Penrith Mayor Kevin Crameri, Councillor Ross Fowler & a representative of Lindsay Federal Labor MP David Bradbury. The community is trying to save 100 hectares of critically endangered Cumberland Plains woodland.  Interestingly, the news headline is – ‘There is still time to put things right.’ http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/there-s-still-time-to-put-things-right-at-adi-site/

Pansies & Marigolds in an island bed on Botany Road - far better than cement

The 1535 hectare site is to be developed by Delfin Lend Lease to create a new suburb – Jordan Springs.  It is one of the few green belts left in Western Sydney & is home to 110 bird species, 10 reptiles, 9 mammals, 8 frog species, 3 of them endangered & many plant species, including 4 rare ones.

I found an article from the Green Left written in 1996 where they say residents have been fighting to protect this land for the past 6 years.  This means the community has been fighting for 20 years to save this green corridor.  This is an interesting article as it provides a background history. http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/12798

The ADI Residents Action Group website also provides a great synopsis of what is going to happen & why the ADI site is important to preserve. http://www.adisite.org/

7.        Environmental protestors & Aboriginal traditional owners of the land continue to fight to prevent logging of the Mumbulla State Forest in South East NSW. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/breaking-news/anti-logging-activists-lock-on-to-timber-harvesting-machinery/story-e6freuyi-1225867563540?from=public_rss

It is the last remaining habitat for around 50 Koalas. This may not seem many Koalas to require the stopping of logging a forest, but at The Australian Koala Foundation website, https://www.savethekoala.com/ they say, “there are less than 80,000 koalas left in the wild, possibly as few as 43,000.”  This certainly makes 50 Koalas extremely significant.  Personally, I think every Koala is significant, but we are talking about big money to be made here versus the habitat & survival of an animal. This is always a problem because the animals generally lose. That the Koala is listed as vulnerable in NSW is supremely important.

The Nature Conservation Council of NSW is calling for urgent action to stop logging & save the Mumbulla State Forest & have outlined ways in which the community can become involved. http://nccnsw.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=3002&Itemid=1

Last Friday 28th May 2010 a coalition of conservationists, including Chipstop & the Nature Conservation Council of NSW have called for the Federal Government to step in & order that the logging be stopped.  Intensive wood-chipping of Mumbulla State Forest has taken place this week.  Interestingly, due to countries buying less of our woodchip at the moment, there is some concern that they won’t even be able to sell the woodchips they have made from the torn down forest. The Tasmanian timber company Gunns recently posted a 98% drop in its ½ yearly profit, partly due to a drop in woodchip sales. http://bigpondnews.com/articles/Environment/2010/05/28/Fed_govt_needs_to_protect_NSW_koalas_467192.html

8.         Landcare is collecting old mobile phones to help their aim of planting 30,000 trees along the Murray River, at the Mallee in WA & in the Daintree Forest in Far North QLD.  90% of each mobile phone is recyclable so giving your old mobile to collection points stops them landing up in landfill where they don’t degrade.  Collection points are Australia-wide & to find a collection point near you – www.mobilemuster.com.au

9.        Great news in that the Federal Government contributed to the purchase of a 14,000 hectare property called Bowra Station located in western QLD.  The property, purchased by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy is home to 200 species of birds. Birdwatchers will be able to go there.  http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/05/21/2906362.htm

10.        More great news as the NSW Labor government has decided to pay logging industry $97 million  & in turn, they are to stop logging the River Red Gums by the end of June 2010.  A National Park in the Millewa group of forests will be established in July 2010 & will be jointly managed with the Yorta Yorta people. http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/05/19/2903840.htm

11.        I found the Environmental Volunteers Newsletter on Marrickville Council’s web-site.  It’s a great newsletter with information about current activities & contact details of all the environmental groups working in the LGA. http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au/environment/volunteering.htm

As of last weekend the historic Fig tree at the IKEA development Tempe was still standing. Its shape has changed so I think it has been pruned.

In the May 2010 edition of Marrickville Matters magazine, Mayor Iskandar said, “I urge Marrickville residents to find that piece of land that is not being used & come to us for help to establish their own community garden.” Marrickville Councils Community Sustainability Co-ordinator can be contacted on 9335-2222. May’s magazine has a environmental feel with many articles focusing on the environment across the LGA. Council also says Mackey Park in Marrickville South will be carbon-neutral with all power needs being offset by the use of photovoltaic cells which generate electricity when exposed to sunlight.  This is really good.

12.        Go easy on the mince & bacon rashers if you feed Kookaburras because a Kookaburra was found in a Mosman Park being chased by dogs because he was too fat to fly.  He is currently in rehab at Taronga Zoo Sydney & on a diet, poor birdie. http://bigpondnews.com/articles/OddSpot/2010/06/01/Hefty_Kookaburra_has_grams_to_go_468341.html

I read in the May newsletter of the Marrickville Heritage Society that local resident Michael Pearce passed away on 28th April 2010 after a long illness.   I am quite sad about this.  Michael was one of the residents who addressed Marrickville Councillors on 11th August 2009 in the campaign to save the 2 magnificent Hills Fig trees in Mackey Park Marrickville South.

Mackey Park Fig Trees

Michael was very supportive of the campaign to save these trees & kindly agreed to allow me to publish his speech to Council in SoT.  This was very important to me as I desperately wanted these trees to be retained & SoT was only 2 months old at that stage.  His support meant a lot to me & I was & still am enormously grateful.

He did help save the Mackey Park Figs & I hope he felt good whenever he saw them when he visited or passed Mackey Park.  He knew the history of the park well as he had been going there since he was a young man.  It was a pleasure to know Michael. He was full of verve & integrity.  My thoughts go to his family.

Quite a few people have searched this site for Michael’s speech. This prompted me to add a more visible search box now located at the top of the left-hand column.  You can read Michael’s speech by clicking on the following link- https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2009/08/17/17th-august-09-another-residents-speech-to-council/

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