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Fatima Island at high tide - August 2013.

Fatima Island at high tide – August 2013.  Three Cormorants & one Egret are visible.

Fatima Island in 1984.  You can see that the island has been neglected as there is only a fraction remaining.  Photo by Chrys Meader, supplied by Marrickville Heritage Society& Cooks River Vallay Association with thanks.

Fatima Island in 1984. You can see that the island has been neglected as there is only a fraction remaining & the heritage retaining wall almost gone.  Photo by Chrys Meader, supplied by Marrickville Heritage Society & Cooks River Vallay Association with thanks.

Fatima Island is an extremely urgent issue currently facing Marrickville Council.

Fatima Island is the last remaining island in the Cooks River of a few that existed prior to white settlement.  It is located opposite Kendrick Park at Tempe & the local Aboriginal community are thought to have used this & the other islands as a means to cross the river to what is now Wolli Creek.

Not only important to the traditional owners, Fatima Island is important to the Muslim community as Fatima was the wife of the Prophet Mohammed.  It was named ‘Fatima Island’ after Catholic rosary pilgrimage to the island in 1951 & a Portuguese statue called ‘Our Lady of Fatima.’

Unfortunately, Fatima Island has been eroding.  The convict-hewn rock retaining walls installed in 1901 have fallen in recent years allowing the tidal water to erode the island & has resulted in the loss of some trees.  Each tree lost has resulted in more erosion of the island.  People too have impacted the island by the wash from speedboats, tying up motorboats or exploring the delicate island.

It’s obvious that Fatima Island has important cultural & heritage significance to not only Marrickville municipality, but also the Greater Sydney.  These factors alone are enough to warrant saving it from disappearing, but also important is that it is the only real sanctuary for waterbirds on the river.  If work is not done to repair the retaining walls, we will lose the island forever.  That would be a dreadfully sad outcome for many in the community.

The issue of Fatima Island last went to the Marrickville Council Meeting on 15th October 2013.  Council staff recommended an Erosion Assessment & Remediation Feasibility Study be done.   This coming Tuesday 3rd December, Fatima Island will again be debated in the Marrickville Council Meeting.  It is here that Councillors can decide to approve an allocation of $25,000 required to do the study.  If they decide to apply for funding from other sources, it is quite feasible that the time this will take will make it too late for Fatima Island.

Marrickville Heritage Society, The Cooks River Valley Association & Saving Our Trees are asking the community to write to the Marrickville Councillors by Tuesday 3rd December requesting that they support the $25,000 allocation as a first step to saving Fatima Island.  It does not matter whether you live in Marrickville municipality, as this is an issue of interest to more than just local residents.  A strong response from the community will certainly help let the Councillors know that the community cares about Fatima Island.

A draft email & Councillor contact details is available here –  Draft-Fatima-Island

You can watch a short video of Fatima Island here –

Thank you in advance.  Jacqueline

Another photo taken in 1984.  Photo by Chrys Meader, supplied by Marrickville Heritage Society& Cooks River Vallay Association with thanks.

Another photo taken in 1984. Photo by Chrys Meader, supplied by Marrickville Heritage Society & Cooks River Vallay Association with thanks.

Close up of convict marking on steps at Fatima Island in 1984.  Photo by Chrys Meader, supplied by Marrickville Heritage Society& Cooks River Vallay Association with thanks.

Close up of convict marking on steps at Fatima Island in 1984. Photo by Chrys Meader, supplied by Marrickville Heritage Society & Cooks River Vallay Association with thanks.

Five Ibis, one Royal Spoonbill & one Grey-faced Heron taking a midday break on what is left of Fatima Island, opposite Kendrick Park in Tempe.  October 2013.

Five Ibis, one Royal Spoonbill & one Grey-faced Heron taking a midday break on what is left of Fatima Island.  October 2013.




This Prunus variety in Enmore stands about 1.2 metres tall & looks battered & awful for all but 3 weeks of the year when it puts on this fantastic display in spring

This was the Council Meeting. Absent: Clr Iskandar. The following is how I understood the meeting & all mistakes are mine.

Application for Special Rate Variation for new Marrickville Library – 1 speaker from the community: Against the rate rise. People are doing it tough. You are talking about borrowing $17 million & having the rate payers pay it back. There are a lot of pensioners & unemployed. You were not elected on this, nor do you have a mandate. I ask for lengthy & extensive community consultation.

Clr Olive: Councillors had a forum the other night & this was discussed.  It was explained that if we built a new library we would need to get a Special Rate Levy. We need community consultation. The community could have great certainty & confidence that Council will deliver.  Enmore Pool was a 3.5% rate levy & the pool is a success. It’s an average $50 increase per year. Not an insignificant amount of money, but not so much for people to bare. Council often gets less than the CPI. If we are serious about providing a library we have to have a Special Rate Levy & we have a time limit.

Clr Thanos: Moved to defer for 2 weeks until concept designs come next week. I ran an election campaign to get a new library & was elected for this. Our community has not been well serviced in terms of a library. We need to consider the future of people who will be using this library.  $15.6 million to build the library, $5 million for the car park, $3.5 million for additional level of car park; that will be sold off to residents in units that will be built & $4.5 million for landscaping. I am not against rationalizing libraries. We have 5 other libraries.  Our other option is to sell the site. In my view this will rip off the community, as we will never deliver a library.

Clr Wright: Support deferral & am committed to a new library. We can only fund it if we ask residents to assist. Staff: Costing relies on past experience of other projects. We can be confident that these are good figures. Car parking will be required. We need it underground for 60 spaces with a lift access.  Project would be finished end 2014.  We have outlined funding arrangements – $37.1 million, borrowing $23 million.  Once library project is complete there will be proceeds coming from other areas of the site.  Clr Olive: Supported deferral for 2 weeks.

Clr Marci: Committed to delivering a new library, but not so convinced we need to apply in December. Scheduled works start 2012 & Council has enough money to start. This gives time to convince the community. I don’t want to be caught out like the [Enmore] pool. That project went from $10 million to $18 million. That was an 80% increase for the pool & an 80% increase for the library would be catastrophic.  Ashfield Council got into financial difficulty with their library. Not many people know of the library. I’ve had to get smelling salts out, as people were shocked when I told them the cost.

Clr Kontellis: Reluctant to defer. I’m not sure a concept plan will help.  People are excited about a library. They want to be part of what it looks like & what services it will deliver. We must commit to raising appropriate amount of money to build this. What the concept design looks like should have community debate & inclusion. It would be $10 per week. I don’t want it to be misinterpreted that I don’t want a library.

Clr Philllips: I think the average cost is $1.50 per week. Staff: Maximum cost is $9 per week, $457 per year.  Clr Phillips: I support special rate variation. I will support deferral. I disagree with Clr Macri to start early works before financing the library. Clr Macri: I’m being misinterpreted. You want to get a Special Rate Levy without going to the people.  Clr Phillips:  I think it’s fiscally responsible to deal with the finances up front before going to the community, so they know what they are getting in to.  Clr Thanos: If we lose a year of rates, we may not have the funds to do the job.  Staff: The Regulated Authority has indicated that they want Council to tell them early so they can get all their resources together. The issue of timing is you don’t normally embark on a project & get community expectations when you don’t have the funds to do the project. By February, we will have a good idea what the community thinks.

Mayor Hanna: I’m in favour of a library, but not in favour of what exactly the library will be & what exactly will use the rest of the site. $4 million for a car park on the corner? Do we need a park?  Do the community want a park here?  We sold the land for IKEA so we have got the money.  Electricity prices are going up. Some people can’t even afford their electricity & tell them each year how much it [the library] will cost them. I want to know exactly how much it will cost in 5 years. I’m not going to a Special Rate Levy without going to the community. If we cannot afford it, why are we going to build it?

Clr Byrne: We unanimously voted to get a new library. This is an intergenerational cost to build something for our community that will benefit children who can’t afford a computer. It’s a space for older people to meet, a safe space for the whole community to meet.  If you truly don’t think it should happen, don’t vote for the library.  I will happily go to the community & ask them whether they want a park or a community building. I believe in this library & will be voting for it.  Clr Macri: $1.50 per week increases. Staff: Yet would rise with CPI. 3% would go up 3%.

Clr Thanos: When I was Mayor I moved that the only way to build a library at no cost was to bulldoze the whole site, including the heritage buildings.  If you are genuine about pensioners not paying rates I’ll vote for it.  The 80% blowout for the pool is not true.  It was costed at $15.1 million for a 25-metre pool & $18 million for a 50-metre pool. It wasn’t worth having a 25-metre pool for a $3 million difference.  Mayor Hanna: We have $900,000 in dispute.  Clr Thanos:  We changed our brief to the builders. We were right on the money with Steel Park. We cannot consult with the community on thin air.  We need to tell them how we will raise funds. I don’t need to know what it will look like. I want the community to say what it will look like.  If the community is opposed, we will not proceed. We can sell off the property to private business.

Vote – Defer for 2 weeks – unanimous.

Notice of Motion: New Marrickville Library – Allocation of resources for the Marrickville Heritage Society ( in existence for the past 25 years) – Clr Olive moved that the Marrickville Heritage Society be given some space when the new library moves on to hold their meetings & house their collection as they are a voluntary group who can’t afford to pay market rental rate.  Clrs O’Sullivan, Thanos, Byrne, Wright & Hanna stated they did not support this motion. Clr Phillips did support the motion.  I have not covered the debate, but essentially Councillors were against giving space to the Marrickville Heritage Society for reasons such as perceived favouritism, it would be like a cash donation, other community groups also need accommodation & Council should not be giving away rentable space.  Vote: For: Clrs Olive, Phillips & Macri.  Against: Clrs: Hanna, Tsardoulais, Wright, O’Sullivan, Peters, Thanos, Kontellis & Byrne.  Motion lost.

Here ends the Report for this week.

Recently I heard during a Council Meeting that these trees will be chopped down to build the new library building. Although some trees will need to go to make room for the building, I am very unhappy that the best Camphor laurel tree I have seen in Marrickville LGA will be chopped down. The reason I was given for its removal was that the tree would be in the middle of the park. This does not make sense to me. The tree is exceptionally beautiful, is not sprouting baby Camphor laurel trees around either the park or the area. It is healthy, provides much needed shade & is home to wildlife. In my opinion, the park is almost complete because of the presence of this tree & the 5 Canary Island Palm trees on the perimeter facing Marrickville Road. The Palms will be relocated, but to where I do not know. Remember, $4.5 million is planned for landscaping for the new library. Some of this money will be spent chopping down this magnificent tree that is linked to the site’s history & also matches the trees planted in the grounds of St Bridget's Church across the road.

The Camphor laurel tree that will be chopped down to create a park.

Amazingly SoT recently celebrated its second birthday.  I say amazingly because this blog has developed into something I did not expect.  I like to thank people & there have been many who have helped me, so here goes –

  • I thank you all for your support by coming here & reading.  Thank you also for letting others know of SoT.  Word of mouth is the best reference.
  • Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to send in a submission to Council to try & save a tree &/or sent emails to our Councillors regarding trees or an environmental issue.  Because of your involvement there have been a number of trees saved & positive changes to what is now the Urban Forest Policy.
  • Thanks also to those who follow SoT on Twitter & more recently Face Book.  I did not want to do either & have been very surprised at the depth of knowledge shared on these two platforms & this has helped me immensely.
  • Thank you to all who have spoken to me or sent an email sharing your knowledge, ideas & information.  I have appreciated your feedback on what I am doing as well as your input regarding where you think work on the environment in Marrickville LGA is needed. I have met some wonderful people who are just as concerned about our local environment as I am.
  • Thanks to the Arborists who have shared their knowledge regarding trees & tree care.
  • Thanks also to the other professionals; the landscape architects, the plumbers, the horticulturalists, the gardeners & those with knowledge of the urban environment who have kindly answered my varied questions.
  • Thanks to the Marrickville Heritage Society who have been supportive towards SoT & provided information about heritage trees in the LGA.
  • Thanks to Metro Watch for their support concerning the trees of Marrickville Metro.
  • Thanks also to those Councillors who have voted to save trees up for removal, who have replied to my emails & who voted to ensure that the Urban Forest Policy is what it is today.  Without these Councillors we would have had 5,000 public trees removed over the next 5 years.
  • Finally, thank you to the staff at Marrickville Council for answering my questions, replying to my emails & for the improvements made to the Urban Forest Policy, which I believe are quite substantial.  I also thank Council for allowing community consultation regarding public trees & matters concerning the environment.  This may have always been the case, but it is an approach that I appreciate.

A cake was made (not by me)

I hope SoT continues to grow & that we can make a positive impact on our environment so that the streetscape is leafier & greener for future generations.  I think trees are incredibly important in making areas livable & fortunately for me, the current research backs up this belief with real facts.  The more tree canopy & green spaces there are, the happier & healthier people tend to be.  I’d like to see the parts of the LGA that are bare become as leafy as other parts. It’s also important for me to acknowledge that Marrickville Council does some great work for the environment.  I hope the future budget allocations are sufficient to allow more of this kind of work because we will all benefit immensely, as will urban wildlife.

We celebrated in our back garden with sparklers

Yesterday the Development Application to demolish the Sydenham Station Master’s cottage went before the Joint Regional Planning Panel.  Four residents & a representative from Marrickville Heritage Society spoke to the panel against Railcorp’s application arguing that the cottage was a significant part of Sydenham’s history & was no different in architectural design to a number of heritage-listed Station Master’s cottages around NSW that have been renovated & retained.  They also fought to save the 21 mature trees on the site.

The JRPP gave Railcorp one month to deliver a heritage (as opposed to structural) report.

A community member who attended the meeting said that the Solicitors for Railcorp argued that the DA was inappropriate for the JRPP & should have been decided by Marrickville Council.  Perhaps they are unaware that all Marrickville Councillors voted against demolishing the cottage saying, “the preservation of this building is fundamental.”

Sydenham lost many of its buildings for the Third Runway. To lose yet another public asset & 21 mature trees is something that the community strongly opposes.

I wrote about this previously ––-5th-april-2011-part-2/

The Station Master's cottage at Sydenham was last occupied in 2005.

The Tempe Station Master's cottage is heritage-listed.

In February 2010 I posted about community action to save Hoskins Park in Dulwich Hill from a 3-storey development of 11 town houses next door that would remove 15 trees & which would ‘loom over’ Hoskins Park. Two development applications were submitted & both were refused.  Council cited non-compliance with local planning controls & the huge community opposition to the development as reasons for refusal.  The Marrickville Heritage Society also put in a submission against the development, particularly the intent to demolish two 1920s houses.

It was regarded as an overdevelopment back then & now another DA has been submitted, this time almost twice the size at 20 units. Currently the site is zoned 2A – low residential density, prohibiting multi-level & mulit-unit residential development in the Hoskins Park area. Half of the 20 units will be affordable housing (20% off market rent for 10 years). Perhaps they are hoping that the affordable housing component will ensure that the zoning requirements are ignored & the DA gets approved?

In the latest DA they want to do the following –

  • Demolish parts of the historic Brooks Lodge. This building is being considered for heritage listing.
  • Demolish 34 & 36 Piggot Street, two Federation houses that appear to be in excellent condition.  36 Piggott Street in particular has its original features, tessellated tiles, chimney & stained glass windows.
  • 3-storey units will overlook Hoskins Park. As the land is on the hill directly above Hoskins Park, which slopes down towards the Greenway, the units will indeed ‘loom over’ the park.
  • They also want to remove a mature Melaleuca street tree on Denison Road & an Evergreen Ash (Fraxinus griffithii) street tree on Piggot street. New trees will be planted here when the development is completed.
  • They want to remove 4 trees from the front formal garden of Brooks Lodge & replace with a formal garden of their own design.  3 of the trees are of significant size & at least one is visible on the skyline from Hoskins Park & surrounding streets.  A Frangipani will be relocated somewhere else.
  • 4 small to small-sized trees inside the property will be removed.
  • 1 mature Canary Island Palm will be removed. At the very least this tree should be transplanted somewhere into the streetscape of Marrickville LGA or a few metres across the fence & replanted in Hoskins Park. These trees cost thousands of dollars to source & are great sources of food & habitat for many species of birds as well as flying-foxes. They also handle transplanting well.
  • All up this DA seeks to remove 11 trees.

Healthy Canary Island Palm - instead of chopping it down, why not relocate it across this fence into Hoskins Park or at the Cooks River or into a traffic island or somewhere else in Marrickville LGA?

I personally think there is much to be concerned about with this DA apart from the unnecessary loss of trees.  To remove 4 healthy mature trees in a formal garden of an historic house to create another formal design is totally unnecessary in my opinion.  The loss of these trees will have a major impact on the skyline & the leafy feel of this area.  It will be also removing food sources & habitat for urban wildlife. Throwing away the Canary Island Palm is dreadful.

Local community group ‘Save Hoskins Park’ believes that the development, should it be approved, will have a significant detrimental impact on both Hoskins Park & the character & amenity of surrounding streets. They need others in Marrickville LGA to help them preserve the amenity, privacy, unique character & view corridors of Hoskins Park by sending Marrickville Council a submission opposing this development.  You can contact ‘Save Hoskins Park’ if you would like a draft submission to make it easier at –

The DA (DA201100201) can be viewed here –

The deadline for submissions is 12 noon 19th May 2011.  Submissions can be emailed to –

I made a short video of the trees that will be lost & the houses that will be demolished if this DA is approved –

& a short video of Hoskins Park –

Showing the front garden of Brooks Lodge - every bit of green including the street tree is going to be chopped down or removed to create a new formal garden. It is already a beautiful formal garden.

Like most things to do with trees & development much has to be done within a short time frame. The Railcorp DA for the removal of 21 trees & to demolish the Station Master’s cottage at Sydenham is a great example. This DA first came to my attention last January 2011 on the last day of submissions. See –

Because of “significant community objection to the application” this DA is on the agenda for the next Development Assessment Committee Meeting at Marrickville Council this coming Tuesday 5th April 2011 at 6.30pm.

Council received 17 submissions objecting to the DA, including one from the Marrickville Heritage Society & a community petition that contained 314 signatures. Way to go people!

Because it is a Crown Development Application, Marrickville Council cannot refuse it, except with the approval of the Minister.  If the Marrickville Councillors accept the staff recommendation to refuse the DA, it will be referred to the Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP).

Council staff said there was insufficient information submitted with the DA & have not supported Railcorp’s application.  They recommend that the Councillors also refuse the application “on the basis of a lack of information in relation to the heritage potential of the former station master’s cottage.”

Council says that the Station Master’s cottage “is not a heritage item or located in a Heritage Conservation Area” though it is located close to the “State listed Sydenham Railway Station group listing.” I say that the Sydenham Station master’s cottage is exactly the same (though not renovated) as the heritage-listed Station Master’s cottage in Tempe.  With the $450,000 Railcorp intend to spend to demolish the cottage & remediate the land, they could renovate to retain the building & grounds, including the trees, as a public asset in an area where public assets are dwindling.

If it were to become like the Station Master’s cottage in Tempe it would be a significant asset to Sydenham.  The Station Master’s cottage is a lovely building surrounded by a significant number of mature trees & visible from passing trains.

We don’t need to write a submission at this stage, but we will need to when the DA goes to the JRPP.  However, it would be good if you could send 1 email to all the Councillors telling them that you would like them to refuse the DA & that you want the Station Master’s cottage & the trees on the property retained for the benefit of future generations.

3 people can come to the Development Assessment Committee Meeting on Tuesday to speak against this DA. You need to register by Monday 4th March 12 noon. You can register here –

The report can be viewed at Council’s website – – Item 8 -117 Railway Road Sydenham or in hard copy at the Citizen’s Service Centre in Petersham.

If you would like to see the property & the trees, Kass Finlay McAuliffe has created a fabulous YouTube video that shows the large amount of birds & other insects, including Monarch butterflies that populate the site.  It’s well worth a look –

The Councillors email addresses are –

Thank you. J

The Station Master's cottage at Sydenham can be saved. It looks to be the same design as the Tempe Station Master's cottage below

The restored Station Master's cottage at Tempe is a historical asset to the community



This was the Land Use, Assets & Corporate Committee Meeting. It was followed by the Council Meeting.  All Councillors attended. The following is how I understood the meeting & all mistakes are mine.

Sydney Airport Planning Coordination Forum – A resident spoke, said at present there were 100,000 passengers/year, around 30,000 picking up travellers & around 12,000 workers at Sydney Airport. He said there is 1 expensive train service, the equivalent to a one-way trip to Kiama & 1 bus service, so transport will be a huge problem in the future. He wanted a community member to join the Forum.

Clr Phillips said Sydney Airport was about to massively expand the in & out flights so looking at transport was important.  Clr Thanos said he thought the Forum’s Chairperson ex Marrickville Mayor Barry Cotter was the most qualified person to represent the community.  Carried unanimously.

St Peters/Tempe LATM – 2 residents spoke. Issues that were raised were the creation of streets that will be calm & a surrounding ring of roads that will be gridlocked due to increase in traffic due to new IKEA, none of the traffic figures

Boxing training in the open air

include the vehicles of local residents, Station Street & Unwins Bridge Road will be like a car park & if Marrickville Metro expansion goes ahead, these roads will be even worse. This is dangerous as emergency vehicles won’t be able to get through, high CO2 is bad for both the environment & the health of the community & that no traffic measures have been done for Richardsons Crescent as many leaving IKEA will travel this way. One resident thought IKEA has not given Marrickville Council enough money to pay for traffic problems & it will fall onto the ratepayers. They wanted a traffic review 6 monthly.

Clr O’Sullivan was happy to let the LATM go for community consultation, but asked that extra copies of the coloured diagrams be at libraries & available for loan. She noted that there was disagreement among residents & Council needed to support them.  Clr Olive said he supported the closure of Union Street, but could see problems arising with Foreman Street. He said he was unenthusiastic about pedestrian islands. He also put up an amendment to remove the ‘no stopping’ section between Richardsons Crescent & Gannon Street as this would not improve the traffic flow.  Clr Thanos asked that staff assist the community to understand this complicated document & asked for 2 information sessions where the community could talk with staff & get help with the writing of their submissions.  Clr Hanna said not all residents in Union Street want it closed. Carried unanimously.

2 residents spoke against a refuge island at the intersection of Trade, Baltic & St Mary Streets saying it was not needed & would result in the loss of a Frangipani tree that was a great feature of the streetscape. “The island would remove 5 parking spaces, but this is minor in terms of the loss of the tree.” (May I say how great it is to hear residents speak up for the retention of trees).

Clr Phillips moved that this issue be sent back to the Traffic Committee. Crl Olive said he encouraged staff to think of a measure that is perpendicular with traffic & includes sensitive urban design as these islands don’t calm traffic. Carried unanimously.  The rest of the LATM also carried unanimously.

Establishment of an Alcohol Free Zone in Bailey, Goddard & Holt Streets Newtown – Clr Kontellis said that AFZ’s only move the often the most vulnerable people on to another area & that there was only 1 letter of complaint. Clr Wright said in this case the drinkers were backpackers & supported the proposal.  Mayor Byrne said she has voted against AFZ’s previously, but supported this one because it was backpackers. Clr Peters agreed saying it was also drinkers from Sandringham Hotel & had been happening for 4 years.  Passed with only Clr Kontellis against.

Community facilities: Calvert Street public toilet – Clr Macri did not want the upgrade deferred to 2015. Clr O’Sullivan agreed. Clr Tsardoulias put up an amendment that the toilets be upgraded in the 2011 budget. Carried with Clrs Phillips & Thanos voting against.

Activity program to mark Marrickville Council’s 150th anniversary – Clr Tsardoulias put up an amendment that staff investigate doing a re-enactment of a historical Council meeting & move the event to the Alex Trevellian Plaza. Clr Olive put up an amendment to investigate doing something at the old Town Hall.  Clr Byrne said she had concerns with the amendments because of the budget & the weather may ruin an event at the Plaza. Clr Thanos said the community would not like to spend $30-40,000 on a separate event & maybe the 150-year anniversary could be mentioned in other events. Clr Kontellis thought it was worth spending $30-40,000 on a celebration saying we need to show respect to the indigenous community & foreshadowed an addition to the motion that the program work with the local Aboriginal leaders to ensure respect of their culture.

View across the Alexandra Canal Tempe

Clr O’Sullivan put up a foreshadowed motion for Council to work with Marrickville Heritage Society with a view to promoting a fresh look at Marrickville’s history.

Re amendment to go back to the Alex Trevellian Plaza, Clr Hanna said when this happened previously, no-one was interested & it was a waste of money. Clr Macri thought something that promoted the history of Marrickville should be included in Marrickville Matters. Clrs Hanna, Macri, Iskandar, Wright, Tsardoulias & O’Sullivan voting for & Greens voting against. Chair Clr Phillips used his casting vote to defeat the motion.

Motion to investigate doing something at old Town Hall. Clrs Hanna, Iskandar, Wright, Olive, Kontellis & O’Sullivan. Chair Clr Phillips used his casting vote to carry the motion. Motion to involve local Aboriginal community. Carried. Clr Thanos voted against. Motion to involve Marrickville Heritage Society carried. Against Clrs Thanos & Byrne. Motion to take back to Alex Trevellian Plaza carried. Clrs Thanos & Byrne against.

Motion as amended: Investigate doing something at old Town Hall, sensitive to the local Aboriginal community, incorporate Marrickville Heritage Society & take back to the Alex Trevellian Plaza, carried. Clrs Byrne & Thanos against.

Here ends the Land Use, Assets & Corporate Committee Meeting.  Due to the length of the post I will post about the Council Meeting separately.

Couple of Magpies

1.   4 new Australian National Parks have been opened in Victoria in June 2010 – the Barmah, Lower Goulburn, Warby Ovens & Gunbower National Parks have been established to protect drought stressed Red Gums.

2.  South East Queensland got 2 new national parks this week at Tewantin & Pumicestone to protect remnant forests.  2000 hectares was also added to Glass House National Park & 13 of the 14 peaks of the Glass House Mountains are now in the park. These parks will protect threatened stringybark & scribbly gum forests & the rare & threatened glossy Black Cockatoo (I’ve seen these wild in Cooroy), the Wallum Rocketfrog, the Sooty Owl & the Water Mouse.

3.  Lend Lease is building an over-55 residential living & nursing home development in Morpeth NSW approved by Maitland City Council.  One of the things Maitland City Council also approved was the removal of more than 900 trees (not a typo) that are to be chopped down for the development.  The trees were called a buffer zone, which to me means an area that is a habitat for wildlife corridor. The residents are angry.

4.   Community protesters against a plan to transfer Moore Park to the SCG trust have won their fight. Last Wednesday night 1,000 people met at Paddington Town Hall. The next day Premier Kristina Keneally said the land would not be taken from the Centennial Park trust.

5.   The Opinion section of the Batemans Bay Post had a letter from Rosemary Hughes from Surf Beach about a DA for a new Bunnings. She writes, “…to my horror, I learned that the Bunnings proposal will remove tens of thousands of trees & huge amounts of earth/rock from alongside the tourist drive road next to the Surf Beach roundabout, creating a vast flat open space equivalent to 7 football fields with a monster shed over 200 metres long.  It will mean the loss of a huge area of habitat & connecting corridors for an important range of native fauna. Bird life will be equally devastated.” Surely both Bunnings could choose a better site & the Batemans Bay Council will protect such an area. Here’s hoping sense prevails.  The other letters are also interesting regarding environmental matters.

6.    The Department of Climate Change has put together a new mapping tool that identifies areas at risk of flooding by rising sea levels.  This is to be distributed to Councils soon.  Last Marrickville Council meeting Mackey Park & Botany Bay area were mentioned as areas that could be affected by a 1 metre sea rise, yet climate experts think the actual rise will be more like 2 metres.  Amazing to think what would have to be submerged if Mackey Park became beachfront.

7.   Railcorp has angered residents by chopping down trees alongside the railway line in Epping & they intend to do more at Beecroft. Railcorp said, The site of the works was found to be 95% noxious species of plants & the remaining natives were left in place & pruned.”

8.   Community group Save Our Springwood are angry saying they were actively ignored by the majority of Councillors during a Blue Mountains Council meeting regarding community opposition to the building of a supermarket in Springwood. Apparently 7 Councillors “sat silently” for the entire 2½ hour meeting, even after members of the crowd asked them questions.” Between 230-400 residents attended the Council meeting. I would have loved to have been there.

9.    Goondiwindi Regional Council chopped down an unspecified number of Fig trees in McLean Street Goondiwindi because “the figs were damaging the footpath & getting in the way of power lines” much to the anger of the community. The Fig trees were young at around 50 years old & are what Goondiwindi is known for. Not any more they aren’t.

10.  One of Australia’s rarest birds has been spotted in remote Western Australia. (audio)

11. The IKEA heritage Fig has been removed. See below.  There is a lot happening regarding trees & related things at the moment.  Part 2 will be posted tomorrow.

The IKEA heritage Fig was relocated on Saturday 26th June 2010. The tree is now is now much closer to the Princes Highway at the side of the old Penfold's clock tower building. It was moved about 40-50 metres. Thanks to Laurel Horton who took this photo to & Richard Blair both of Marrickville Heritage Society for the information as well as permission to use this photo.

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.

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-



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