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The view of the new garden from Marrickviklle Road.   Three small children were inspecting the plants while I was there.

The view of the new garden from the footpath on Marrickville Road. With serveral new trees & hedges, this corner will develop into something that really enhances the local landscape.  Three small children were inspecting the plants while I was there.

I read in ‘Marrickville Matters’ that St Clement’s Anglican Church at the corner of Marrickville & Petersham Roads won ‘Best Commercial Garden’ in Marrickville Council’s 2014 Spring Garden Competition.  Deservedly so – because it is terrific.

I first noticed this garden when riding past one day & went back later for a sticky-beak.  I really like this garden & I think children especially, will enjoy it.

A shady seat beside a NSW Christmas tree, which has been putting on a good show for a few years.

A shady seat beside a NSW Christmas tree, which has been putting on a good show for a few years.

Set in a small space between the church building & the side fence fronting Petersham Road, the garden does much with the space. Small rooms have been created – something garden designers love.

There are areas with seats for quiet reflection around the perimeter of the church, including the areas not visible from the road. Other seats are scattered throughout the garden & many of these are small child height.  An olive tree is planted in the middle of a circular wire seating arrangement, while a NSW Christmas tree provides shade for a bench seat near the gate.  Camelias & fruit trees have been planted as well.

There is even a ‘fairy circle’ of wooden toadstools – perfect for a gathering of little children. The fairy circle is visible & close to the front door of the church. I can see kids racing to gather here while their parents are chatting with others at the front door after the church service.  I don’t know whether this happens, but this garden is ripe for activities like this.

A log seat & a path that winds around the garden bed.   I like the hedge as well.

A casual log seat & a path that winds around the garden bed. I like the hedge as well.

The original brick fence has been retained – good for keeping a sense of local history, & a deep yellow low picket fence installed for the remaining perimeter. Orange jessamine (Murraya paniculata) has been planted to form a low hedge inside the fence line. It’s very good to see greenery added in this way, when many would have stopped at a fence.

The paths are very interesting & serve to help delineate the ‘rooms’ throughout this small space.  All the paths are permeable, which is terrific for stormwater management.  Getting rid of unnecessary concrete is something we should all be aiming to do in our own gardens.  Less concrete cuts out the heat retention as well.

Rocks, small wooden logs, wooden planks, pavers & old bricks have been used in artistic ways between areas of small pebbles. There is barely a straight line to be seen, which not only adds interest to the paths, but also softens the whole space. I believe that most people react well to curves, even if unconsciously.

Another section of the path through the garden.  I loved the different surfaces.  They served to attract your eyes down & into the garden.

Another section of the path through the garden. I loved the different surfaces. They served to attract your eyes down & into the garden.

Many of the plants are Australian natives & if they are not, they are fragrant & perfect for little hands to touch & smell.

For as long as I can remember, there have been trees & a thriving garden at the front of St Clement’s, which adds a rare patch of beauty along this stretch of Marrickville Road.

To me, St Clement’s is one of the historical ‘gateways’ to Marrickville with the Town Hall & Fire Station across the road & the lovely St Briget’s Church one block west. This is a section of particularly good historical buildings, so it is great to see another aspect of beauty being added in the form of a garden, which is visually & physically accessible to the community.

I really like what they have done. It is a captivating garden in my opinion & will only get better as the plants & trees grow.  Well done on receiving an award for this initiative.

Two wonderful fence posts incorporated to create a very Australian design.  Note the Red Flowering gum tree, which will also add beauty & colour, as well as provide food for wildlife.

Two wonderful fence posts incorporated to create a very Australian design. Note the Red Flowering gum tree, which will also add beauty & colour, as well as provide food for wildlife.

One of many seats offering a place to rest or contemplate.

One of many seats offering a place to rest or contemplate.

The paths really caught my attention.  They are permeable, using recycled materials & artistic.   They will be fascinating to children.

The paths really caught my attention. They are permeable, using recycled materials & artistic. They will be fascinating to children.

A small swale with a bridge.  Little touches like this were delightful.

A small swale with a bridge. Little touches like this were delightful.  You can see three variations to the path in this photo.

The Fairy Circle.  This is a whimsical place for children to sit & play, while in full view of adults at the church entrance.

The Fairy Circle. This is a whimsical place for children to sit & play, while in full view of adults at the church entrance.

 

View of the cracks in the Marrickville War Memorial

The statue ‘Winged Victory’ that stands on a pillar on the World War One Memorial outside Marrickville Town Hall was on the agenda at last week’s Council Meeting, 17th August 2010.

Winged Victory is a gorgeous statue that stands more than 4 metres tall & is the largest known bronze casting on a memorial in Australia.  Winged Victory is well loved by the people of Marrickville.  She was installed in 1919 & remained onsite until 1962 when she was removed for the next 26 years for restoration. She has remained onsite from 1982 until she was again removed from her pillar on 24th April 2009 because there were cracks developing which were seen as a potential danger to the public.  Winged Victory has since been assessed by a specialist conservator who said to repair her would likely be more expensive than having a bronze cast replica made.

Council recommended that a replica is made & Winged Victory be put in storage. Clr Olive wanted her displayed to which Clr Tsardoulias put up an amendment for the same.  Clr Marci said he thought the gold leaf on the names of fallen soldiers should be restored.  He also said the trees were destroying the footings of the War Memorial & Council should look at removing them.  Carried unanimously.

I went to have a look to see what kind of damage the trees were causing the War Memorial & frankly I would have to partially disagree with Clr Marci. I don’t think the trees have caused any significant damage, though I do think the memorial itself needs repairing & restoring the gold leaf to the names would be the right thing to do.

The whole site in front of Marrickville Town Hall is a place of great potential.  Right now it looks quite sad & is an under utilized space, especially in summer when the area is deadly hot.  The only time I am aware it being used is voting day. Generally, the space is used by pedestrians walking through, the odd person having a rest or groups of school children chatting & waiting for the bus.  One of the benches sits within 2 metres of the back of the bus stop. Not exactly making use of the view.

The area in front of Marrickville Town Hall is pebblecrete with a few Pines & plants along the walls of the Town Hall building. There are 3 planter boxes. One is empty, one has a 10 cm Pine growing & the other has a good-sized Pine growing in it.  This last tree has a crack in the pebblecrete at the base  of the planter box, but I don’t think this is an issue of safety. No one would walk there due to the shape of the tree.

The barren pebblecrete forecourt of Marrickville Town Hall is in dire need of some shade trees

2 smaller Pines are in purpose built cavities as part of the memorial itself.  The concrete between 2 sandstone blocks encasing one of the trees has disconnected from the 2 blocks, but this is simply a matter of re-cementing the 2 sandstone blocks together if deemed necessary.

The War Memorial itself is a series of steps in a flat pyramid shape.  Some of these steps have cracked along the joint for each level & 2 of the corners have damage.  This can also be repaired with a bit of cement.  One side does present a trip hazard, but does not seem at all related to the presence of trees.

The trees attached to the memorial are small with small trunks & they still fit nicely inside the cavities.  The damage to the memorial is higher than the base of the trees, so I doubt the roots would have caused it.

Marrickville War Memorial & 2 Pine trees

Council said last week they would look at the trees, not that they will be removing them.  I ask that Council do not decide to remove any of these trees, even the small Pine that leans. This tree is too small to hurt anyone & has probably grown in a lean because of the strong wind that comes down this corridor. There is ample room for pedestrians to pass so it does not need pruning.

Traditionally in Australia, Pine trees, especially the Aleppo Pine, have been planted at WW1 memorials because Pines trees were at Gallipoli.  Pine trees also symbolize life & immortality.  All but one of the trees outside Marrickville Town Hall are reasonably old & all but one are in good condition. I think it amazing that

Trees along the side of Marrickville Town Hall - home to thousands of small birds

they have survived considering the conditions they are planted in.

The tall Pines that flank the wall alongside & at the front of the Town Hall are home to at least 2,000 small birds. If you like birds, dusk is a great time to visit. Just sit on a bench & listen. The noise from the birds settling in for the night is fabulous. It’s an instant pick-me-up.

There has been new planting recently, but unfortunately many of the plants are dying for lack of water especially those to the right of the library door.

As I am writing this post, an e-mail arrived

Forecourt of Marrickville Town Hall- the arrow shows the bench - St Clements Anglican Church in the background

regarding questions I had asked earlier in the day about the trees. One of my colleagues reckons the pine trees there look a bit ragged, don’t provide shade & haven’t aged too well.

This is a problem when an area looks barren.  I think it is the environment that makes the trees look ragged.  All the trees except one outside the Library are healthy. The ‘ragged’ tree along side the Libary wall could do with a prune to allow it to rejuvenate.  It needn’t be cut down in my opinion, but if it were, it would be best to replant the same species.

I’d like to see this space be made more inviting. Marrickville Town Hall is a beautiful building inside & out  & is the entrance to Marrickville shopping strip from the western direction.  The trees that are there are lovely in my opinion, but there is loads of room for other shade trees to be planted.

Like the area outside the Hub in Newtown, the forecourt of Marrickville Town Hall could be made into a place that is inviting for the community to use.  Benches could be put around the trees encouraging

Another view of the forecourt outside Marrickville Town Hall

people to sit. As I mentioned, this area in summer is very hot & we need to start working on public areas that contribute to the Heat Island Effect. The pebblecrete would disappear visually if the eyes were drawn to large shady trees.

To finish on a good note, I noticed that Marrickville Council has recently planted around 16 new street trees on both sides of Marrickville Road near Marrickville Fire Station.  I hope the trees survive, as they will green up this section of Marrickville Road nicely.

I have many photos of Winged Victory & will post one if I can find it.

1919 photo of the opening of the Marrickville War Memorial that hangs in the Marrickville Fire Station

No disrespect intended - here is Elvis visiting the Marrickville War Memorial today

Street tree planting Marrickville Road

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

1. Local Traffic Committee Advisory Meeting:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fire Wheel flowers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gum flowers

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

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

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

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

Next was the Services Committee Meeting.

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

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

gorgeous bark

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

Here ends Report from the Gallery for this week.

Land Use, Assets & Corporate Committee Meeting followed by the Services Committee Meeting.  Councillors Tsardoulias, Iskandar, Thanos, Kontellis were absent.  Clr Hanna left at the conclusion of the first committee’s business due to illness.

A lot happened in these meetings & there was much discussion.  I felt that simplifying the post to shorten its length would not do the Councillors & their arguments justice, so have decided to post in 2 parts. The following is my take on the meeting & any mistakes are mine.

Local Area Traffic Management Scheme:

Item B3 Sydenham Local Traffic.  As I understand the issue, vehicles use Florence & Mary Street Sydenham to travel between Unwins Bridge Road & Princes Hwy.

Wattle about to bloom

9,000 cars & trucks travel through Mary Street per day. 3 residents from Florence & Mary Streets addressed the Councillors, all supporting the scheme that Council was, in part, not recommending.  The residents said 66 signatures were collected from the (almost all) residents of Mary Street asking Council to stop vehicles speeding in Florence & Mary Streets. They said both these streets are dangerous to pedestrians & for people getting in & out of cars.  They cited 50 kph zones in Florence Street & Unwins Bridge Road despite having different uses.  They wanted Florence Street to become 40 kph with at least 1 speed hump & they were prepared to pay for the speed humps if Council couldn’t afford to install them.

Clr O’Sullivan put up a motion to install speed humps in Florence Street & for Council to commit to approach the RTA to make the street 40 km zone. Seconded by Clr Hanna who said he has never witnessed residents saying they will pay for speed humps.  Clr Olive supported the motion saying the residents say they need them & it is an appropriate place to put speed humps. He wanted Council to investigate the feasibility for a raised crossing for the pram ramps.

Clr Macri said this decision may be a ‘trail-blazer’ for other streets. He thought 40 km was quite reasonable for residential streets & said Council should approach the RTA about rezoning speed limits.  He asked staff whether plastic bolted down speed humps were comparable in cost to the ones built onsite. Staff advised the costs are comparable.  Clr Phillips also supported lower speeds in residential streets & asked about the costs associated.  Motion adopted.

Item C3 – parking in Marrickville Road. A café owner in Marrickville Road addressed the Councillors saying that many businesses in the area do not have parking as train commuters park there all day & requested 1 hour parking restrictions in this section of Marrickville Road.

Clr Olive said he was not confident in 1 hour parking just for this area. Clr Peters said she supported 1 hour parking on Marrickville Road citing that commuters park all day free & Council cannot provide free parking.

nice looking planter box

Clr Hanna said he did not want to be put in a position where local business could not keep staff because they were getting parking fines so was against any parking restriction.  Clr Phillips suggested a 6-month trial saying Council received 6 submissions out of the 15 flyers distributed & this was insufficient. He put up an amendment to trial 1 hour parking for 6 months & then review to see if it has worked.  Seconded by Clr Peters.

Clr Wright thought the amendment was okay, but reminded that Council had the idea for just a few spaces with 1 hour parking. Said she would put up a foreshadowed motion later.  Then a staff member advised Clr Phillips’ motion was contrary to the recommendation in the paper. Clr Phillips withdrew his amendment saying he would support Clr Wright’s foreshadowed motion. (Confused yet? I was.)

Clr  Macri said Council only received 6 submissions of which 4 were against changes & he wanted a more thorough community consultation.  Clr Peters said Council was intending to provide parking to business owners in Frampton Avenue.  Chair Clr O’Sullivan called for a vote on the recommendation as it was.  Defeated.

Clr Hanna said that he & Clr Macri were often approached regarding parking issues on Marrickville Road & said it was unfair to do it because 4 out of 6 submissions said they didn’t want restrictions.  Clrs Phillips & Peters said they would support parking restrictions with Clr Peters saying Council was going to provide parking for business owners.  She said we want to provide more turnover in parking for shoppers & Council cannot provide free parking for commuters & business owners.  Carried. (Here I think what was carried was the instigation of 1 hour parking in this area of Marrickville Road).  I wonder how long it will be before metered parking will be introduced in our shopping strips to make money for Marrickville Council. They have proved to be a great revenue maker for Leichhardt Council as an example).

Items Council investments as of 31st March 2010, Status update, petitions & Councillors Access to information All were noted.  Clr Phillips asked staff whether Council were still intending to have consultation with Councillors regarding the Tree Strategy Issues Paper.  The GM said the paper would be put to the general management team in May, then have a series of Councillor conferences with independent experts also being involved.  All carried.  Meeting finished.  Clr Hanna excused himself from the next meeting because of illness.

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