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Google Street view from 2013 of Marrickville Railway Station from Station treat

Google Street View of Marrickville Railway Station from Station Street 2013

The following is part of a media release from Transport NSW dated 26th May 2014 about Marrickville Railway Station.

“Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian today announced work will begin to install two new lifts, a new concourse and stairs as part of a $32 million upgrade for Marrickville Station.

Ms Berejiklian said the project is part of the NSW Government’s $770 million Transport Access Program, an initiative to deliver accessible, modern, secure and integrated transport infrastructure where it is needed most.

Ms Berejiklian said contracts had now been awarded for the works to begin shortly.

“There will be new station entry points, a new concourse, stairs to boost customer access and CCTV cameras for added security,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Two new lifts will be installed to make it easier for the elderly, people with disability and parents with prams to catch the train.”

Canopies will be built to help protect customers from extreme weather and customers will also benefit from improved safety features and be able to interchange more easily with kiss and ride facilities, accessible parking and a taxi rank.

Community feedback received late last year has also seen 20 bicycle racks added to the plans for the station upgrade.

Work is expected to be complete by the end of 2016.

“When these improvements are complete, Marrickville Station will be accessible to all customers for the first time,” Ms Berejiklian said.”

See – http://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/media-releases/work-begin-marrickville-station-makeover

View of Marrickville Railway Station from Station Street earlier this year.

View of Marrickville Railway Station from Station Street earlier this year.  

Image of the completed Marrickville Railway Station Upgrade by Transport NSW

Image of the completed Marrickville Railway Station Upgrade by Transport NSW. Note the shadows on Station Street where there are currently no trees. Perhaps they plan to plant street trees in this location.

Some good news for residents.  It’s finally happening.  Transport NSW has released the plans for the upgrade of Marrickville Railway Station.  The works will take 3-years with completion expected in 2016.

I had a look through the document & like the following points –

  • This station will become accessible to everyone with the inclusion of two lifts to service both platforms.
  • There will be a family-accessible toilet.
  • There will be anti-throw screens, improved lighting & CCTV to cut down the risk of crime.
  • The 8 Brushbox & Crepe myrtle trees along the concourse on Platform 2 will be retained if possible.
  • Existing vegetation, except for the trees near the stairs & the street tree on Illawarra Road, will be retained with further landscaping design done later.
  • They will retain ground-level access to Station Street.
  • Space will be given for sheltered bike racks in area covered by CCTV or high passive surveillance.
  • The bottom part of Station Street will be a shared pedestrian zone.
  • They are planning to reuse up to 90% of waste from site preparation & construction to prevent waste going to landfill.
  • They intend to ensure 100% of spoil material is beneficially used.
  • There will be waterless urinals. I don’t know how that works, but it sounds good.
  • There will be taps that cannot be left running.
  • There will be naturally ventilated buildings.
  • 95% of timber used is recycled or Forest Stewardship Council Certified.
  • They are looking to how it can be a market on the weekend.  I assume this is Station Street.
  • They will provide shade with vegetation on the concourse, platform, parking areas & pedestrian pathways.
  • They will provide signage about the heritage of the area.
  • They will investigate tree-planting opportunities in Station Street.
  • Platforms will be extended up to 14 & 19-metres, so plenty of room to add beauty.
  • They will be creating a full archive of the current station, including photographs for future generations.

I’m not fond of  –

  • Tree removal on Platform 2 – a group of trees at the western end of the platform & one on Illawarra Road are to be removed.  However, to do the works, these trees will have to be removed.
  • There are to be up to 6 taxi spaces on Station Street. There is a Taxi Stand on Byrnes Street next to the old RSL space that is next to the railway line – 170-metres away.  To put another taxi stand on Station Street will negatively impact on the availability of parking that helps the shops & cafes in the immediate area.
  • The dark grey colour of the buildings.

Of interest –

  • Traffic along Illawarra Road outside the station in 2005 was 17,500 per day.  Anyone who lives or drives here knows that traffic has significantly increased since then.

Transport NSW has prepared an interesting & very comprehensive report covering such diverse topics as climate change, biodiversity, local heritage & Aboriginal heritage should anything be found.  You can download the report here – http://www.transport.nsw.gov.au/projects-tap/current-works/marrickville

There are numerous other documents for those who want a fuller picture.

The deadline for submissions is Monday 20th May 2013.  Railway Station upgrades are few & far between, so it is in the community’s best interest to put in a submission regarding any concerns you may have.

Transport NSW image of the upgrade seen from Station Street.

Transport NSW image of the upgrade seen from Station Street.

Transport NSW image of the Railway Station from the shopping strip on the southern side of Illawarra Road.

Transport NSW image of the Railway Station from the shopping strip on the southern side of Illawarra Road.

 

No street trees in this street in Marrickville

This was the Council Meeting. Absent: Clrs Hanna & Iskandar.  The following is how I understood the meeting & all mistakes are mine.  So much of importance happened in the meeting so I will cover it over 2-3 posts.  This post is about the budget for 2011-2012.

Adoption of Integrated Planning & Reporting Framework documents –  You can download these papers here (Item 16) – http://bit.ly/l7UjyU  This item was under the confidential items which would mean that the Gallery would not be able to hear the debate or know the outcome.  Clr Thanos debated whether this was appropriate & said the Gallery should be able to stay.  Thankfully, the Councillors agreed to this.

Mayor Byrne tabled her Mayoral Budget for 2011/2012 which includes all points in the budget report, plus the following items of expenditure–

  • $30,000 addition to tree planting
  • $50,000 create a Sustainable Streets grant pool for community bush pockets & verge gardens
  • $15,000 for additional bike hoops at Sydenham Railway Station, Marrickville Railway Station & Addison Road.
  • $10,000 for picnic set of table & chairs for the corner of Seaview Street & Marrickville Road.
  • $40,000 for partition switches for football field lighting

Mayor Byrne:  We are signaling to the community that this is a priority. If we have the funds, we should give the staff the okay to start works.

Clr Macri: I like to see work [that will happen] on the rundown Marrickville Station & the extra bike parking at the stations & Addison Road is needed.  Staff: Re: graffiti funding – it will mean going back on some service levels. We’ve been engaging contractors. We were hoping to continue this, but now not able to do this. Each year we fund part of our capital works from loans, so will borrow more in 2012 & less the next year.

Clr Wright: I’m disappointed re the removal of $145,000 for graffiti removal. I do think it will cause angst in the community, as we will offer less services. Perhaps there will be a groundswell. I understand Sydenham Station is to be upgraded so I hope we don’t put bike-parking hoops until the works are completed.  I’m disappointed I can’t support the budget in totality because of the Mayor’s changes.

Clr Thanos: There is a large benefit to the community to get these programs up & running. I’m looking forward to seeing the review of Aged Care Services next month. They are the most vulnerable in the community without a doubt.  Aged Care Services is groaning under the demand. The graffiti budget could triple our capacity for Aged Services.  Staff: The long-term financial plan shows that in the next 10 years Council should double its money for Meals on Wheels & other services. In the next 4-8 weeks we will be looking at a review of our services. I want to convene a meeting with other Aged Care service providers to see what they intend to do, as well as Council.

Clr O’Sullivan: I can’t support the Mayor’s budget. Disappointed about removal of graffiti funds & think many residents will be shocked at this. I know graffiti is a never-ending spiral. I resent the constant attempts to push back Labor’s approach. Labor councilors strongly support a public domain management to community art.  All Labor [Councillors] will not support the budget.

Clr Peters: Lighting costs in Marrickville LGA is massive. This will give us the opportunity to turn off the lights when they are not being used. We could seek to include solar offsets for sports grounds as possible. (This was added to the amendment).   Clr Kontellis:  We are trying to use the $145,000 to create a range of impacts out of an $80,000,000 budget. This money is piddling. The picnic table is to help older people by creating a bit of space for people to meet. I don’t believe putting money into graffiti [removal] is a way to go – prevention rather than cure.

Clr Macri: Good budget, tight, lots of cuts. $400,000 moving into current budget. I’d like to see work on the Marrickville RSL site first.  Staff: We don’t borrow until we need it.  Clr Macri: Graffiti reduction has lifted the spirits of the area. In the budget, $50,000 for tree planting every year. In this budget, $60,000 for street trees & an extra $30,000 for park trees, plus the Mayor’s budget of an extra $30,000.  $200,000 allocated to do a Tree Inventory. Staff can’t tell me how many trees we have. Now they are going to plant more trees without knowing how many we have. I’m not in favour of not lighting the full football fields as they are well used.  Graffiti removal is probably the way to go. I won’t support the budget. The tree issue is a real concern for me. We are going the wrong way. The money could be used elsewhere.

Clr Olive: Community has been asking for work on Marrickville Station for a long time.  We spend $240,000 (per year) on graffiti removal.  Increasing the tree canopy is in the Tree Strategy Policy & the best way to increase the canopy is to plant trees.  We can go for a Tree Register that takes 2 years or plant trees now.

Clr Tsardoulias: Won’t support the Mayor’s amendments (to the budget). I did a letterbox drop & got 246 replies. Roads, graffiti & garbage were in the top 5. This budget is cut, cut, cut. We need an asset tree management put in place before planting $160,000 trees.  Trees need to be planted in the right location. Waste Services $100,000 shortfall. Does this mean job cuts? Staff: We changed the priority into recycling so not paying tipping fees. No staff cuts.  Clr Tsardoulias: What happened to the temporary Illegal Dumping Officer?

Mayor Byrne:  $219,904 for illegal dumping. It’s a balanced budget.  We have phones that can switch off lights on every field.  Clr Tsardoulias:  There are safety issues for dog walkers & sports people. There is an issue for the table on that corner. There is double the seats on Canterbury Road & they are under-utilized. The chairs stop disabled access. Those trees at $160,000 is a waste of money because we need the right balance in the right time.

Mayor Byrne:  Clr Thanos is right; the migrant elderly are becoming a more isolated community. My understanding is that the LAC Meeting had a $60,000 position for a co-ordinator for graffiti. At the moment, we remove graffiti, but are not putting anything in place to do something about it.  Trees are long-term sustainable assets. The table & seats near the notice board does not create access issues. The corner of Canterbury Road is busy – who wants to sit there? But the Seaview Street site is right in the middle of the shops. All these points (on the budget) are long-term & some are cost saving.

Vote: Against – Clrs Macri, Tsardoulias, Wright, O’Sullivan. For – Clrs Olive, Peters, Phillips, Kontellis, Byrne & Thanos. The Mayor’s amendments with the budget were passed.   Here ends Part 1. More tomorrow.

Not a tree to be seen in this street in St Peters or on the skyline.

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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