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Tuesday’s Council meeting was perhaps one of the most important meetings of the year as the Asset Management Strategy Policy was on the agenda.  This report was recommending to increase rates, always a hot issue when it hits the public purse.

Money was central to most of the issues on the agenda from a donation to Haiti, whether to spend money on Addison Road or on Marrickville Railway Station, to giving the Greek Orthodox Church in Marrickville financial assistance of $5,000 to quieten down their new digital bells & to the Asset Management Strategy Policy prepared by Council staff.  There may have been more, but we did not stay until the end.

Many residents are aware  that Marrickville Council doesn’t have the money to fix things as most requests from the community take a long while before they reach the top of the list of the actions council is taking.  Staff & councillors have openly said to me on a number of occasions that Council just doesn’t have the money to do certain projects.  For me, it was obvious when reading through last week’s Tree Management Issues Paper that Parks & Gardens have been functioning under-resourced & under-financed for many years.  After what I heard discussed last night, I would not be surprised if many departments in Council are experiencing the same restrictions.  Put simply, Marrickville Council finances are in trouble.

In brief, the Asset Management Strategy Policy prepared by Marrickville Council staff said:

  • Marrickville Council cannot afford to look after its infrastructure & assets & was listed as an ‘unsustainable council’ in 2009
  • Council’s financial unsustainability was not going to improve unless they improved their financial position significantly with one option being to increase rates.

A staff member said that the reason the report was before Council was because:

  • the serious condition of our assets with significant issues facing Marrickville Council 2010-2011
  • Size & scale of financial deficit is substantial.  The draft budget first cut figure is $2 million deficit having carried through Phase 1 & 2 reductions to the budget
  • There are a lot of unknowns if the issue is deferred for another year

Marrickville Council does not have enough money to repair its assets or maintain its infrastructure.  A recent & public example is the old & beautiful Coptic Church in Sydenham Green, which featured in Council in 2009 & again last week.

It will be a significant loss to our history if we lose this building

A staff member of Council explained to me that a community organisation can apply to use the church, though they would need to sign a lease for a number of years & renovate the building themselves at an estimated cost of $2.3 million, as well as look after its upkeep for the duration of the lease before it comes back into Council’s hands again.  The problem is that the community organisations or groups that council would see as suitable to use the church building are unlikely to be able to pay for the repair of this particular building which is deteriorating at a rapid rate.  The Inner West Courier published an article about this church this week – page 9 –http://digitaledition-innercity.innerwestcourier.com.au/

The Asset Management Strategy Policy was recommending that the councillors decide whether or not to apply to the minister for a rates increase (special levy).

The debate between councillors covered the history of some projects & of previous applications for rates increases, how much public works actually cost (eg $350,000 for paving in Dulwich Hill shopping strip, $15,000 for a speed hump, $35,000 for a round-about) & about the financial burden of servicing 1 billion dollars worth of infrastructure before you even build anything new.

Despite the importance of the issue & the strong views held by councillors, the meeting was polite. There was negligible need for the chair to intervene.

The flow of the discussion allowed the councillors to ask many questions to the staff & I was impressed by the extensive & considered strategic advice they offered.  They explained how these processes work, what is the financial situation of council, what could be done with any additional funds in the kitty & what might be done if council did not apply for the special levy.

Councillors expressed concern about the financial status of council.  As expected, there was divergent opinion as to the best way to manage this situation.  I am deliberately lumping comments & strategies together to keep this brief.  Apologies for any mistakes.

The Greens expressed concern that Council was in dire financial straits & if left until next year, the situation would only worsen reminding that this issue has been deferred for many years.  They believed if the community was asked whether they would pay about $1.60 per week per household or 96 cents per week for lower income households for better roads, better footpaths & better infrastructure, the majority of rate-payers would say yes.  They were also worried about Council’s ability to pay staff & ability to maintain the substantial assets we have.  They wanted the money raised to be used for priority infrastructure renewal works.  They also reminded everyone that it has been 5 years since the last rate increase. They also argued that if left until next year, councillors will be afraid to pass a rate increase because of fearing community backlash with the upcoming election.

The remaining councillors wanted to defer the decision for another year saying that while they were concerned about Council’s financial situation, they wanted to know whether there were other cost saving measures & revenue accruing avenues that could be explored before going the route of raising rates.  Some suggestions were closing some of the libraries, advertising on billboards facing the airport road at Tempe, life-cycle planning, community consultation with residents, continuing to educate council staff on safe work practices to reduce worker’s compensation payouts, looking at verge mowing & paid parking, increasing fees to use sports ovals & child-care facilities, getting rid of unnecessary programs & operations & selling off the Marrickville Hospital site (council has not made a decision about its future for some while).

The vote by Councillors Iskandar, O’Sullivan, Wright, Thanos, Hanna, Macri was to defer for 12 months.

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SoT concentrates on trying to save, preserve & protect healthy trees in public spaces, yet sometimes the loss of trees on private property deserves mention. Generally most residents of Marrickville LGA are unaware of the loss of the older, perhaps historic trees unless they are directly affected or when they recognise that ‘something’ in a particular area has changed.  The presence of trees is something we take for granted & it is often only if they all go & the landscape is radically changed that we recognise their loss.

I have decided to document the loss of our big older trees or when a mass of trees are removed regardless of whether they were situated on private property or not.  This post informs of a recent loss & one that is about to occur.

In September 09, 2 heritage listed 77 year old Fig trees, 1 other Fig tree, which were alive & growing in 1943, 1 mature Plane tree & 2 mature Eucalypts were chopped down in Ferncourt Primary School Marrickville South to make way for the building of a school hall as part of the Federal Government’s stimulus program.  The loss of these trees caused much grief to those in the community who know about it.  The community tried to find solutions that would enable all the trees to be retained, but their efforts were unsuccessful.  You can read about these trees & see photos at the following –http://ecopond.blogspot.com/2009/09/trees.html Thanks to Voren a local resident who sent me the link to her blog.

I understand all the trees visible in this photograph are to be removed - still more trees are out of shot

Last Tuesday 2nd February 2010 the Labor & Independent councillors voted to approve a DA for the St Vincent’s de Paul State Office 2C West Street Lewisham.  Many of you will know it as the old Lewisham Hospital site.  It is situated across the road from Petersham Park with its lovely oval, numerous old, very special trees & the Fanny Durak Pool. The DA was seeking to demolish an existing brick & stone fence, remove 32 31 mature trees & construct a new fence, driveway & landscaping.  The trees that are to be removed give the feeling of a tree-lined avenue as they match those on the opposite side of the road in size & were probably planted at around the same time so their loss is going to have major visual impact. 3 Palms will be relocated.

The whole St Vincent’s de Paul site is heritage listed, including the fence.  The DA said:

  • the existing fence does not provide sufficient security for residents of an aged-care facility & a woman’s refuge on site.
  • the fence is also suffering structural problems due to the height of the soil inside the property & the presence of mature trees, both of which have caused the brickwork to move & lean outward in some parts.

row of trees which will be chopped down - I have been told Bandicoots live here

While I agree with both points, after going to the site & having a look, I believe that the removal of the trees is unnecessary unless the aim is to get a more modern, streamlined effect to match the new shiny glass black building.

The fence is bowing outwards.  The ground is built up on the inside of the fence.  This looks to be deliberate & would have been in place for many decades. I wonder why they just cannot remove the old brick fence, built a new, higher one to improve the security & replace any soil dislodged during construction of the new fence.  If they do this, they will be able to retain most if not all of the trees.

This tree will be chopped down - it has a massive trunk

St Vincent’s de Paul intends to replace the 32 trees with a mix of lawn, low scale planting, screen planting & Crepe Myrtle, Tuckeroo & Summer Red Gums. I think they want to do this to modernise the place & perhaps allow more onsite parking.

The trees to be removed are decades old.  I would guess around 80 years.  Most have massive trunks (2-3 metres) & as such are significant sequesters of CO2.

The front of the Lewisham complex looks a mess at the moment because there is building work happening & the front & side of the property has a cement barrier erected to prevent pedestrians being flattened by any part of the fence if it decides to collapse.  However, when you enter the property, the noise immediately abates because the trees block a lot of the traffic noise.  It is cool, visually pretty & smells nice.  It is a relaxing place despite the construction work.

another very large tree due to be chopped down

Enter past the front buildings & further into the property & you come across one of Sydney’s hidden gems.  There is a contemplation garden complete with life-size religious statues, a small cemetery, old hand-made stone seats tucked into raised garden beds, a variety of mature trees & an old fashioned & very beautiful garden.  Birds, insects & lizards are everywhere.  Further in there is a school with 3 massive trees with huge natural canopies that shade the playground.  There are also many heritage buildings with curved silo-like attachments, a gigantic copper dome & an enormous & exquisitely beautiful sandstone church. The

this beautiful tree is to go as well

complex is dotted with enormous Eucalypts & other trees, all of them mature.

Two families of Bandicoots live on the property.  I was told the Bandicoots live “out front & in the trees along Thomas Street.” Where will these animals go when their homes are removed? The animals can’t just cross the road & take up

3 Kookaburras live in the trees which are to be chopped down.

residence in Petersham Park because animals are territorial & other animals probably won’t allow them to move in even if the conditions are right.

The St Vincent’s de Paul complex is a green oasis that provides significant habitat for wildlife one block from the heavily trafficked Parramatta Road & about 6 kms from Sydney CBD.  It’s not that I think everything should stay the same & there should be no progress, but sometimes progress can ruin something very special.

I’ll start this post with a clarification concerning the last post Cambridge Street tree axed today.  I realised over breakfast this morning that I had generalised when I said, Once again, regarding the Cambridge Street tree, the Greens voted to keep the tree.  Once again, the vote to remove the tree comes from the other counselors.” In fact, with regards to the Cambridge Street tree, Independent Councillor Morris Hanna did not vote, as he was not in attendance at that particular meeting.  My apologies to Councillor Hanna.

I have decided to do another post on tree news from around the world.  I am assuming you will find it as interesting as I do & it gives us comparisons in which to measure our own Marrickville Council in regards to trees.

I'd call this street tree 'The Pride of Chatswood' except there are many street trees like this one, enough to be common

I received interest from the UK regarding the last post, where I mentioned that some Australian municipal councils erect billboards in place of trees that have been deliberately vandalised to get better access to a scenic view. Perhaps UK councils are considering using billboards to act as a deterrent to the recent rampant vandalism of trees in their country.

Caitlin from Save Our Figs in Newcastle found the following for me which, though old news, made me roar with laughter.  In 1998 Port Stephens Council on the mid-north coast of NSW placed 2 shipping containers on top of each other on a cliff in place of 20 trees that were illegally cut down to gain access to better views of picturesque Boat Harbour. Post Stephens Council also planted saplings to replace the trees & intended to keep the shipping containers in place for 3 years until the saplings reached a decent size.  Unsurprisingly, the locals were not amused.

To read the full story complete with photo that I wish I could use, click on the following link.  http://www.news.com.au/national/council-blocks-suspected-tree-loppers-view/story-e6frfkwi-1111115863763

News more recent & local: the Cumberland Courier newspaper reported that Hills Shire Council & Castle Hill police are investigating the death of numerous trees on a property in Boundary Road, Box Hill. A grove of 40 year old Gums have died, yet the trees on properties either side are lush & green. The police are involved because they believe the trees were poisoned. It wouldn’t be the first time bush properties have been used for the dumping of chemicals. Causing deliberate harm to trees is called Malicious Damage in police speak & can incur hefty penalties including gaol time if severe enough.  You can read the full story here – http://cumberland-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/what-s-killing-box-hill-s-trees/

a row of recent street tree planting in Chatswood. Note how close together they are planted

In Seattle USA, a dozen 50 year old Fir trees both on private & public land were chopped down in the middle of the night to make way for better views.  Seattle doesn’t require a permit to chop down trees on private land unless on slopes or along the shore.  It calls itself the Emerald City, yet Seattle’s percentage of tree canopy has dropped from 40% in 1972 to 18% currently.

Seattle is trying to regreen the city to the first target of 30% cover.  In 1999 the budget for Parks & Recreation was US$250,000.  In 2010 it is US750,000 rising to US$1.2 million in 2011.  This is serious tree planting money & I would be interested to learn of Marrickville Council’s budget for tree planting.  Perhaps it would be fairer to compare the budget for City of Sydney Council instead.

The same article reminds readers of when a senior Seattle Judge was fined US$500,000 after he was found guilty of illegally chopping down 120 trees in a public park below his house.  The trees obscured his view of Lake Washington.  Can you imagine chopping down 120 trees in the middle of the night?  He must have been strong  & fit as none of the men I know would be up to this job.  No words of his position as a Senior Judge & bastion of society.

The article has other news including links & is well worth reading.  You can read it at the following link – http://www.seattlepi.com/local/320177_trees18.html

Tree news is a fairly recent phenomenon.  It used to be that only the most profound or shocking tree news was reported, but in recent months a great deal of tree related news is being written in the papers & on the internet.  This post is again too long so I will post the second part of recent news soon.

I was invited by Marrickville Greens to go to watch the magnificent Lemon Scented Gum street tree in Cambridge Street Stanmore being chopped down by Marrickville Council.  For various reasons I declined, but I know I did not want this image imprinted on my memory.  I have come to love this tree & I am distressed about its loss.  To me, it was no ordinary street tree.

Marrickville LGA has some gorgeous trees, mostly in parks, though there are also good ones that are street trees.  However, we have thousands of butchered, stumpy & not good-looking street trees all over the LGA & it is noticeable if you look.

I think many of us have become desensitised to the ugliness of our street trees because their disintegration happens over time & we just get used to seeing them in this poor condition.  Leave the LGA & you immediately notice the differences.

This magnificent street tree is gone

The Lemon Scented Gum in Cambridge Street Stanmore was one of the better-looking street trees in the whole LGA & this is not an exaggeration.  Do I think this because I like Gums?  Yes & no.  I do like Gum trees, but I also like most other trees.  I am an all-round tree lover though I admit to preferring tall stature trees & especially trees which flower & provide food for insects, birds & animals.

I think it is necessary in an urban environment to think about wildlife when choosing trees to plant.  I also think we have a duty to provide food for these creatures who are losing more & more food resources every year.  If you don’t believe me, put out a birdbath in a safe place in your garden & watch how long it takes for birds to arrive.  They are short of water as well.  When we built a fishpond, the rare frogs of the area arrived within 2 days & there wasn’t other ponds around.  Where did they come from, we wondered.  If you plant flowering trees & shrubs that feed birds, they will come in droves & the air will be filled with birdcalls.

So for a tree of this magnitude to be cut down seems ridiculous to me.  The tree provided refuge for both wildlife & humans because it was a flowering native tree & its canopy significantly cooled the air in the street.  This is not a feeling I am used to when I walk the streets of my local area.  Mostly I cannot walk during the day because the streets are so hot with the heat reflected by the road & concrete.  I believe that as temperatures rise due to global warming, the heat island effect is going to get worse & we are going to bake.  City of Sydney Council recognises this & intends to plant 10,000 more trees in the CBD this year to counteract the heat.

I am aware the residents who wanted the tree removed said it was causing cracking to their house & Council felt hamstrung because of the potential of litigation.  However, because we do not have a Significant Tree Register, our public trees are vulnerable.  Cracking to houses can always be repaired & it is something we should expect when we live in 100 year old houses, which are built on clay soils & with poor quality mortar.  In fact, even renovated houses in the Inner West need regular work as they are always deteriorating.  It comes with the territory. That’s why many people prefer to live in modern units or project homes that are built on cement slabs.  As a norm, tree roots are not strong enough to lift a concrete slab.

Ordinary street in Chatswood with multiple large street trees- a very different outlook to our LGA

When we respect trees & fully appreciate their positive impact on our lives &  vital role in our civilization’s existence, if atmospheric levels of CO2 continue to rise as expected, then we will do everything we can to keep our mature trees that sequester large amounts of CO2.

The removal of this tree affects the whole community, not just the residents of Cambridge Street.  First is it one tree, then another tree & so on.  Before we know it, the whole streetscape is changed & not for the better.  It took 40 years for that tree to grow a 2.5 metre girth & it had at least another 60 years of life left in it.  Eucalypts often live 100 years or more.  All it took was 4 ½ hours for it to be gone.

The Marrickville Greens tried to get a stay of execution to try other methods to repair the cracking & fix the problem at ground level. The Labor & Independent Councillors had to power to grant this so that amelioration could be tried to give the tree a chance to be saved.  I would have conceded defeat if all avenues had been tried & agreed the tree needed be removed, but these avenues weren’t given a chance.   I am sure the Greens feel the same as I do.  This tree was also worth a lot of money to the community & especially to Cambridge Street.  Better to sell a house before a tree is cut down than after.

Our tree assets get voted out because of concrete, their particular species, because they are old, because, because, because.  I have not yet seen tree saving strategies voted in during council meetings, only the opposite.  Trees are seen as a nuisance & a liability.  The reality is: not having trees is a liability.

I will work with Labor & the Independents as well as the Greens if they are pro-trees & the greening of Marrickville LGA.  However, since I have started, I have noticed that support for my vision comes from the Greens & not from Labor or the Independents.  To be fair, Labor did reverse their decision over the Mackey Park Figs, but not until after a community protest of 300 people & an even larger petition.

Once again, regarding the Cambridge Street tree, the Greens voted to keep the tree.  Once again, the vote to remove the tree comes from the other counsellors.  Is it a pattern? Saving Our Trees hasn’t been alive long enough to be able to answer this question.

Frankly I was shocked when I read on the Greens website that:  Independent Councillor Dimitrios Thanos recently emailed Councillors & staff saying: “I’ll grab my chainsaw & meet the staff down there on the appointed day.” I just know he & I are not on the same page when it comes to trees.

Getting back to my intro, I didn’t want to go & watch the ‘Elle McPherson of trees’ be chopped down, but the Marrickville Greens did witness this.  You can read their posts about this tree –http://marrickvillegreens.wordpress.com/2010/01/14/risk-averse-council-condemns-stanmore’s-biggest-eucalypt-to-the-chainsaw/ & you can also view 2 photos taken today by the Greens at – http://yfrog.com/37y6 & http://yfrog.com/1ehcezj &

http://marrickvillegreens.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/stanmores-largest-gum-tree-turned-into-woodchip/

Councillor Cathy Peters of the Marrickville Greens put a motion before Council last night in an attempt to delay the removal of the magnificent Lemon Scented Gum street tree in Cambridge Street Stanmore until all other avenues that could save it were explored.

A resident of Cambridge Street and I spoke for saving the tree.  The residents who wanted it removed also addressed council.  The Greens voted for the motion & Labor & the Independents Cls Marci & Thanos voted against the motion.  Therefore, the motion to save this tree failed.  The tree will be chopped down shortly.

I personally think it will be a huge loss to the residents of Cambridge Street & in terms of climate change, the whole community.  By my calculations, this single tree with a trunk circumference of 2.5 meters sequesters 388.2 kg of CO2 per year.  To my mind, this alone makes the tree exceptionally valuable.  The tree itself is also very beautiful & cascades over Cambridge Street cooling & making the air smell sweet.  I could go on about this tree’s benefits, but sadly it is to be lost.

A new ‘more suitable’ tree will be planted in its place.  Cambridge Street will not be the same again, a lesson in impermanence.

You may come across a Marrickville Greens flyer advertising a public meeting about the proposed DA for the Marrickville RSL site.  I have posted a couple of times about this development application because it is the first of many such high-rise buildings which will change Marrickville as we know it forever & not for the better in my opinion.  Many residents are very upset & angry with the RSL site DA & Marrickville Council’s Draft Local Environment Plan (LEP).

I am not unhappy about the return of the RSL.  I never went to the old one, but many of my elderly neighbours went on a daily basis.  It gave them an affordable hot meal & some social activity, which benefited them on a number of levels.

View of site from railway station.  The 9 storeys will be higher than the photo allows

View of site from railway station. The 9 storeys will be higher than the photo allows

The problem with this particular development is that at 9 storeys it is too high, almost double the height of the latest developments on Marrickville Road.  It will include 128 units.  One could realistically would anticipate at least 2 people would live in each unit. This is a lot of people on such a small piece of land housed less than council’s own restriction of 30 metres from a railway line.

There will be 398 parking spaces & a supermarket twice the size of Woolworths.  The supermarket will be open from 7am – midnight Monday to Thursday & 7am -1am on Saturday through to Sunday morning & from 8am – 11.30pm on Sundays.  This supermarket will be open more hours than  closed.

5 loading docks will operate from 6am – 10pm Monday to Saturday & 7am – 9pm on Sundays.

Already imposing at 2 storeys, the development reach to the end of the street

Already imposing at 2 storeys, the development reaches to the end of the street

There will be phenomenal traffic to the supermarket, the residential units & the RSL Club.  The developer anticipates 590 vehicles an hour.  Illawarra Road & surrounds is barely coping with traffic during peak hours now.  Blind Freddy can see that large amounts of traffic will spill into surrounding streets resulting in more noise & pollution.  I know this to be true, as traffic in my street has tripled since we moved here.  Marrickville already suffers from noise from planes, trains & automobiles.  When will Council & the State Labor Government think we have reached our limit?

The Draft LEP passed by Marrickville Council last month agreed to high-rise development (7-9 storeys) along Marrickville Road in the Dulwich Hill & Marrickville shopping areas & along Illawarra Road from Marrickville Road to Warren Road.  Most of the block between Illawarra & Petersham Road will also be similar high-rise development.

Many shop owners attended the council meeting that passed the draft LEP & they definitely approved of this plan if the amount of clapping at cheering was an indication.  Apparently 38 shops along the Marrickville strip are currently empty.  I suppose they think with 4150 new residents, business will improve.  I would guess that business would be good for the supermarket at the RSL site, but unlikely elsewhere.  Smaller grocery stores will be competing with 2 big supermarkets & I am not including Banana Joes.

Development has to happen because Sydney is growing at a phenomenal pace & not everyone wants to live in the newer outer suburbs, nor should they have to.  The Labor & Independent councillors repeatedly stated during last month’s meeting that they preferred high-rise in the town centre rather than building residential units in our suburban streets.  So do I, but such comments might be interpreted as threatening the residents & manipulating the issue: Shut up or multi-storey units will go up in your quiet street.

I can’t see any green space or trees in the RSL site plans. With a development of this size it is imperative that open green space is available for the residents & their children.  The closest park is at the bottom of Byrne Street & it is small & lacking in facilities.  The DA intends to remove the pedestrian crossing to this park for greater access for their trucks.

The Marrickville Greens will be holding a Public Meeting on – Wednesday 23rd September 09 @ 7pm @ Herb Greedy Hall –79 Petersham Road, Marrickville.

Regardless of your political preferences, please attend this meeting & hear what the issues are in more detail.  Attendance will send a message to Labor & the Independents that the residents are prepared to take a stand on this, not just sitting back while their community is ruined.

PS  The lights were back on again in Mackey Park when we went for a walk a couple of nights ago.  Thanks to whoever is responsible.

Marrickville Mayor said something very interesting in the Inner West Courier 10th September 09 & I quote: “It isn’t up to us. It’s up to the community we’re consulting with, because it’s going to really affect the people of Marrickville for another 25 years.  I will be listening to the people to give me their advice.”

Mayor Iskandar was responding to questioning from journalist Marie Sansom for an article she wrote called ‘Draft plan allows high-rise’ with the subtitle ‘Heritage under threat, say Greens.’  In this article, she discusses Marrickville Council’s draft Local Environment Plan (LEP) which Labor & the Independent councillors Thanos, Marcri & Hanna passed at a Council meeting a couple of weeks ago.  I was there & witnessed most of it.  I left half way through the Greens amendment being tabled by Clr Peter Olive.  The next day I heard from other residents that all the councillors, particularly the Independents successfully argued against the Greens amendment. The feedback I was given was ‘vitriolic.’  It must have been a humdinger of a meeting.  They felt despondent, like high-rise was a ‘done deal.’

The meeting was filled with excitement from both the gallery & some of the councillors.  It started with each councillor having to declare pecuniary interest & listing the properties held by themselves or their families in the area.  This was very interesting & perhaps explained the excitement.  Then an 1880’s heritage building & Art Deco units were voted to be demolished.  A few weeks ago the Beynon & Hayward building on Livingstone Road Petersham was agreed to be demolished for a car park.  I’ll leave this for Marrickville Heritage Society to comment on, suffice to say heritage does not count for much with all but the Greens.

So the situation is the NSW State Labor Government intends for Marrickville council to add an extra 4000 dwellings in Marrickville by 2031.  First up is the old RSL site, which I posted on last month.  7 storeys with 2 storeys designated for retail – one space at 600 sq mts, perfect for a supermarket.  Traffic along Renwick Street going up to Woolworths was counted a couple of years ago at around 575 a day. The developer’s plans expect 590 cars per hour.  This is a mammoth volume.  Even if this means peak hour only, the traffic spill off on our streets is going to be horrendous.

This is a tree site, so I have said enough.  The September 10th edition of the Inner West Courier isn’t available on the net yet, but if you go to http://digitaledition-innercity.innerwestcourier.com.au/ you can view it when it is posted.  Note also the front page reporting that Planning Minister Kristina Keneally has backed down after community pressure over development at White Bay.  People power can be effective.  The recent opposition to the loss of the Figs has proven this.

Please contact Mayor Iskandar & tell him you don’t want 7 storey or above development in Marrickville.  siskandar@marrickville.nsw.gov.au 9558 7777 or 0408 210 618   If we sit back & do nothing, it will happen.  Mayor Iskandar says these changes will affect us for the next 25 years, more like forever I say.

I have just finished setting up a new page – Media.  Saving Our Trees received wonderful coverage from The Valley Times & the Inner West Courier over the course of the Mackey Figs campaign.  They can be viewed online by going to the Media page on this site & clicking on the links.  While I was doing this, I went through the Marrickville Greens web-page http://marrickvillegreens.wordpress.com/ & saw 7 articles which supported the work of Saving Our Trees.

I would like to thank Marrickville Greens for their incredible support toward Saving Our Trees (SOT) since its inception in mid June 09.  They supported saving the Eucalypt tree outside 11 Union Street Dulwich Hill & the 2 Figs in Mackey Park. I would also like to say that SOT is deliberately non-partisan because I did not want to be dismissed by some doubters as ‘another Greens party activity.’ I wanted SOT to be a another voice for trees in Marrickville LGA & those people in our community who agreed with the aims of SOT regardless of their political preference.  That Marrickville Greens have publicly supported the 2 campaigns of SOT was not something previously negotiated.  This makes their support very special to me as it is real & confirms that I am on the right path with what I am doing.

I invited all Marrickville councilors to the Saving the Mackey Park Fig Trees Party.  I genuinely wanted those councilors who voted to remove the trees to attend, believing that experiencing what it was like to stand under the mammoth canopy of these Figs would be a vastly different experience than seeing them from the road.  I hoped this experience would make them change their minds regarding their decision to remove them.  That Labor has reversed their decision to remove the Figs because of community opposition has made me & many others in this community very happy.  I just hope the 2 Figs are saved when the final decision is made, I think sometime this month.  The Mayor did not sound determined in his speech at the park that afternoon, though Councilor O’Sullivan did.

I am disappointed not to hear from Independent Councilors Macri & Thanos about the trees. They did not make even a courtesy response to the invitation to attend the party.

Carob tree - one of four going to be removed

Carob tree - one of four going to be removed

In my opinion, there are other issues that are still unresolved with the proposed upgrade of Mackey Park.  4 healthy Carob trees are to be removed: 1 for the cricket oval & 3 to make way for a circuit path.  These trees were probably planted when the park was made.  They are old, about 6 metres tall & still provide Carob for at least one local family who have been collecting from these trees each year for the past 45 years.  This family are grieving the loss of these trees.  Councilor O’Sullivan told me Council will plant other trees in their place.  She did name them, but I have forgotten what they are.  I don’t really care about what trees will replace these Carobs.  I care that 3 healthy trees are being cut down for a path that no one wants.  I think to lose them is completely unnecessary.  A path can go anywhere.

Then there is the issue of the current central path through Mackey Park, the lights along this path & the exit opposite Tempe Railway Station.  The latest plan is to have the circuit path branch into 2 paths: one towards the river & one towards the Marrickville side of Richardsons Crescent.  Why when both are dangerous & substandard options?  I think people will ignore these new paths & continue to walk across the centre of the park, even if they have to walk on the grass to do this.  I also think people will cut an opening through the fence opposite Tempe Railway.

We still have time to tell our councilors that we want to save the 4 Carob trees & to discuss the path, lights & exit.  The councilors of South Ward, which looks over Mackey Park, are Peter Olive (Greens), Mary O’Sullivan (Labor) & Morris Hanna (Independent).   I encourage you to send them an e-mail or give them a call before we lose these things.

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