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As it was in 2010 - these trees were home to thousands of small birds

As it was in 2010 – these trees were home to thousands of small birds. The shadow shows that the trees were pruned 1-metre away from the wall of the building.

2015 - Marrickville Town Hall almost denuded of trees.

2015 – Marrickville Town Hall almost denuded of trees.

And today - four new Poplar trees.

And today – four new Poplar trees.

Last week I noticed that Marrickville Council had removed all the remaining trees alongside Marrickville Town Hall on the Petersham Road side.

Today I drove past & saw that four advanced size Poplar trees have been planted in the garden beds.

It is my understanding that Poplars were to be planted along Petersham Road as street trees, so perhaps the community will get lucky & get street trees as well. There is certainly room for more trees.

The new Winged Victory

The new Winged Victory

A wider view of Winged Victory

A wider view of Winged Victory

A back view of Winged Victory

A back view of Winged Victory

I’ve waited a suitable time before I posted about the Marrickville Town Hall upgrade in deference to those who lost their lives in the wars. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the Marrickville Remembers March to mark the centenary of the Anzac landing at Gallipoli on 19th April 2015, but I am told it was a great success. During this event the new Winged Victory statue was unveiled, plus the refurbished forecourt & War Memorial.

I think the new Winged Victory is wonderful & it is great to have a statue back in this location. It is also great to see the War Memorial looking cared for, as it should be considering the 457 Marrickville soldiers who died during World War 1.

Over the last few years, people have written to ask me to take photos of their family member’s name on the War Memorial. Now that the soldiers’ names have been filled with gold & the War Memorial has been refurbished, I am happy to do this again. Contact me – Jacqueline savingourtrees@gmail.com

As for the $500,000 upgrade of the Town Hall Forecourt, it is exactly as I envisaged & not to my liking at all.  I find it hard, grey & cold.  It will be miserable in winter & hot in summer.  I also miss the trees & the sound of birds, which is to be expected.  Time will tell whether the community love these works or it is considered as bad as the upgrade of Alex Trevillion Plaza further down Marrickville Road.

The $75,000 plans for the Marrickville Town Hall Forecourt upgrade had the objective “….to create an austere response.”  They achieved their objective.  See what you think.

Plaque on the Marrickville War Memorial

Plaque on the Marrickville War Memorial

The repaired Marrickville War memorial

The repaired Marrickville War memorial.  Very nice to see wreaths & gold lettering.

Not so nice to see flooding around the War Memorial.  This is brand new work & it should not be retaining water.

Not so nice to see flooding around the War Memorial. This is brand new work & it should not be retaining water.

More retained water on the other side of the Marrickville War memorial

More retained water on the other side of the Marrickville War memorial.

Looking across the Marrickville War memorial towards St Clement's Church

Looking across the Marrickville War Memorial towards St Clement’s Church.

Looking at the Marrickville War Memorial from Petersham Road.

Looking at the Marrickville War Memorial from Petersham Road.

Brass rails from the Petersham Road side

Brass rails from the Petersham Road side

The landscaping.

The landscaping.

Looking across the Marrickville Town Hall forecourt.  Note the car blocking the disabled entry to the Town Hall.

Looking across the Marrickville Town Hall forecourt down Marrickville Road & showing the Magnolia tree.  .Note the car blocking the disabled entry into the Town Hall.  

Seating & landscaping around the Magnolia tree.

Seating & landscaping around the Magnolia tree.

A long view of the Marrickville Town Hall forecourt.  Find the tree.

A long view of the Marrickville Town Hall forecourt.

The side of Marrickville Town Hall denuded of trees.

The side of Marrickville Town Hall denuded of trees.

 

Marrickville Town Hall June 2014

Marrickville Town Hall June 2014

Marrickville Town Hall - 11 December 2014

Marrickville Town Hall – 11 December 2014

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“Just drove past Marrickville Town Hall and all the trees have gone – looks shocking.” – text I received dated 29th November 2014.

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I went to have a look the next day & it does look shocking.  It made me feel very sad to lose these healthy trees for nothing more than a design whim.

Pines are symbolic trees for fallen soldiers, so were entirely appropriate around the Town Hall & the War Memorial.

Yes, the forecourt looked neglected & ugly, but it wasn’t because of the trees.  It looked ugly & neglected because of the chipped pebblecrete on the ground, the half empty garden beds, the neglected & dirty war memorial, the absent very beautiful Winged Victory statue & the empty pebblecrete planter boxes.  All this was topped off with the bus stop placed in front of the Town Hall & the Forecourt being used as a car park on a regular basis.

I read a lot about trees & greening urban environments.  Globally the push is to add trees & green the environment, not take them down.

In Australia we have the 202020 Vision – a campaign by the Institute of Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology, Sydney. They have mapped the urban forest in 139 municipalities across Australia & Marrickville is down there at the bottom with only 16.3% tree canopy. This is nothing to be proud of.

According to the report, ‘Benchmarking Australia’s Urban Tree Canopy: An –Tree Assessment, Final Report,’ dated May 2014, Marrickville LGA has –

  • 63.4% hard surfaces
  • 16.3% tree canopy.

If the truth be stated, a massive number of our street trees have very little canopy & therefore very little impact on the environment in terms of carbon sequestration, pollution uptake, cooling & shade.  I constantly pass street trees so small that I wonder if they should have been included in the Tree Inventory. But of course they were.

So with only 16.3% tree canopy, Marrickville Council is now removing healthy trees to upgrade an important site in Marrickville.  I don’t understand it.

I believe that upgrade will result in a hot & harsh Forecourt, especially in summer.  One Magnolia, a deciduous ornamental tree, will be planted to the left of the Forecourt.  It may yet be beautiful when the upgrade is completed.  We shall see.

I shall miss those trees & I bet the hundreds of birds who slept in them every night for the past few decades will too.  Progress.

Marrickville Town Hall - 11 December 2014

Marrickville Town Hall – 11 December 2014

Removal of these trees is a negative impact on the outlook of the Town Hall in my opinion.

Removal of these trees is a negative impact on the outlook of the Town Hall in my opinion.

These trees have been pruned to be 1-metre away from the facade. They are home to thousands of small birds.

All these trees will be removed, except one palm & one tree fern.

What it will look like after the trees have been removed.  Photo from marrickville Council used with thanks.

Very close to what it will look like after the trees have been removed.  Photo from Marrickville Council used with thanks.

Marrickville Council released the following invitation –

“Marrickville Council is upgrading the Marrickville Town Hall Forecourt in 2014/15.

The upgrade includes new pavements, furniture and trees and restoration of the war memorial.  The project is being coordinated with a new cast bronze interpretation of the Winged Victory statue.  All work is to be completed ahead of a series of events that will mark the Gallipoli centenary in April 2015.  Designs for the upgrade will improve the general appearance and function of the forecourt in line with Council’s Public Domain Study and the heritage values of the site.

Council staff and design consultants will be available to discuss designs for the forecourt at an informal community plan display session at the town hall foyer in June.”

Informal community plan display session happening –

  • Thursday 12th June – 4.30pm – 6.30pm
  • Marrickville Town Hall ground floor meeting room.

The designs will also be available for viewing on Council’s website after 12th June 2014.

I find it disgusting that all the trees will be removed, except for one Phoenix palm & one tree fern. Where will the thousands of birds who sleep in these trees go or do they not matter?

To replace this massive loss, Council will transplant one other Phoenix palm & plant two Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaragd’ conifers beside the War Memorial. These ultra-slow-growing conifers grow to around 3-metres tall tear-drop shape with a 1.5-metre base.  Hardly an impact or shade producing.

It’s going to be harsh & ugly without much green in my opinion.  At a cost of $75,000 for the design & $500,000 for the works, I do not think this is money that actually improves on the site – that is, unless you like hard surfaces & buildings without trees. I believe the space will lose what beauty it has & will become a harsh, hot space & a backwards step for the site, which should be a shady beautiful place for the community to meet.

I last wrote about this upgrade in April 2014.  See – http://bit.ly/1riQq87

 

Marrickville Town Hall. Photo taken 2011. The units on the right have been completed.

Marrickville Town Hall. Photo taken 2011. The units on the right have been completed.

Removal of these trees is a negative impact on the outlook of the Town Hall in my opinion.

Removal of these trees is a negative impact on the outlook of the Town Hall in my opinion.

Clr Phillips first brought the refurbishment of Marrickville Town Hall to Council in July 2011 as a Notice of Motion. See – http://bit.ly/1fmiFLL   A refurbishment plan was brought to the Council Meeting in November 2011. See – http://bit.ly/1jGIkkQ

The refurbishment was again on the agenda at last Tuesday’s Council meeting, 15th April 2014.

Mayor Haylen & Clrs Phillips, Leary & Iskandar were absent, so it was a 2:2:2:2 vote – 2 Labour, 2 Liberals, 2 Independents & 2 Greens who voted to remove all of the trees in the front & all but one tree along the Petersham Road side of Marrickville Town Hall.   Not surprising to me, but at the same time, quite distressing.

In November 2011 I wrote, ALL the trees will be removed & 3 ‘suitable’ street trees will be planted as replacements along the side of the Town Hall.  My guess these will probably be Ornamental Cherry trees to match what has been planted on both sides of Marrickville Road to the corner of Livingstone Road.  They are cheap to buy & absolutely useless to wildlife. 

The current trees along the exterior wall of the Town Hall building are 7 mature Pencil pines, 2 mature Cocas palms & 2 small Cocas palms & 1 mature Norfolk Island palm.  These trees, especially the Pencil pines, add to the grandness of the building & considerably soften the façade.

At dusk take a seat outside the library & listen. Literally thousands of small birds live in these trees & the sound of them settling down for the night is wonderful.  I’ve yet to meet a person who doesn’t like it.  Remove these trees & there will be an environmental impact, though I don’t know whether this has been taken into account in the environmental impact assessment. Certainly Council doesn’t care.

There are 2 mature, but small stature Pine trees in the front forecourt connected to the War Memorial & one 5-6 metre Pine tree in a planter box.  One of these Pines leans towards the pedestrian footpath, but doesn’t block pedestrian thoroughfare.  

This is a total of 15 trees to be removed & the replacement with 3 as yet unspecified species.  You can bet any money that these will be small stature trees that will not obscure the view of the building & probably deciduous.  The community will be left with a sterile box. A grand box, but sterile none-the-less.”

So what has changed 3-years later?   According to the business paper, arrangements are presently underway for a new Winged Victory statue to be made & placed on the war memorial column at the front of the Town Hall.”   Winged Victory herself was donated to the Australian War Memorial in late 2013.   Personally, I would have liked Winged Victory to be on permanent display inside the new Marrickville Library, especially as the ceiling of the building is so high & the front is to be mostly glass. She would have been spectacular in a safe place inside the entrance foyer & visible from the street. C’est la vie.

Winged Victory when it was at the War Memorial outside Marrickville Town Hall.  Now she is going to Canberra.

Winged Victory when it was at the War Memorial outside Marrickville Town Hall. Now she is going to Canberra.

A media release dated 22nd April 2014 says Marrickville Council will hold “an information session & presentation to update local residents & citizens on the future of the Winged Victory statue.”  

This is to be held on Thursday 1st May 2014, 6pm – 7pm at the Function Room 3, Council’s Administration Centre, 2-14 Fisher Street Petersham.

 

Stage 1 of the refurbishment of the Town Hall will cost $75,000 for the design & $500,000 for the works, which are –

  1. Repaving the forecourt – Matching paving will also be installed in front of the car park behind the Library, at the Library entrance & in the two car spaces, all located at the Petersham Road side of the Town Hall building. [The Petersham Road side already has ornamental brick paving].
  1. Furniture, including new seating. [I cannot find any furniture other than 8 new bench seats in the plans.]
  1. Relocating the bus stop to “improve sight lines.”
  1. Refurbishment of the War Memorial column & re-gilding of the honour roll names. [Great.  This is an important war memorial to many.]
  1. Landscaping comprised of –

–      Star Jasmine (native to E & SE Asia)to be used as a ground cover.

–      Hedges of Box Hedge (native to either England, Holland, Japan or Korea depending on the species used), Indian Hawthorn (native to Southern China) & Viburnum suspensum (native to Japan). [This combination of Indian Hawthorn, Box & Star Jasmine is already being used as the main landscaping feature.]

–      Two Tibouchina trees (native to SE Brazil) are planned for the back wall of the car park at the rear.

Can Council not use Australian native plants?

  1. And lastly removal of the “old conifers” – [that is to remove 13 mature trees]. One Phoenix palm will be retained. Another Phoenix palm will be transplanted to match the other. One tree fern will also be retained.
The plants in the garden will be the same as shown, but this Camelia will be removed.

The plants in the garden will be the same as shown, but this Camelia will be removed.

In 2011 Council planned to plant 3 street trees alongside the Library side on Petersham Road. The current plans have upped this to 6 street trees. There is no mention of what species the trees will be.

Two Thuja occidentalis ‘Smaragd’ conifers will be planted beside the War Memorial. These ultra-slow-growing conifers grow to around 3-metres tall with a 1.5-metre base in a tear drop shape.  I personally think Conifers are important trees to have around a War Memorial because of their deep symbolism.  However, two slender 3-metre conifers will not make much of a green impact for either the memorial or the forecourt.  There will be no shade.

While I have long considered the forecourt of the Town Hall to be an ugly mess, I cannot believe that part of the answer towards improvement is to remove the trees.

None of the trees growing beside the walls of the Town Hall touch the building. Neither have they created any visible damage to the building in the decades that they have been there.

This area will also be paved as well as in front of the car park.

This area will also be repaved as well as in front of the car park.

Only one tree causes a problem & that is the small conifer beside the War Memorial & next to the footpath. This tree leans towards the footpath, which although very wide in this section, is starting to be an obstruction. Pruning this tree is a simple job & will remove any obstruction.

I can see no reason other than someone with design powers has a personal preference to get rid of the trees.  One should ask whether this is a good enough reason to remove trees & habitat in these days of global warming, especially as the main feature of the refurbishment will be hard cold paving that will be used as an unofficial car park anyway. The proposed removal of the bollards will further assist car parking.

It is important to note that all work for the Petersham Road side of the Town Hall building is Stage 2 & is “subject to further allocations of funds, should Council decide.” In other words, the trees will be removed & we may wait years for the paving & ground level landscaping.  Since the community has waited years for work to be done on this important war memorial & for Winged Victory to be returned on two occasions, it is not unfair or unrealistic to think this may take a long time to eventuate or not happen at all.

Without funds being immediately available for the whole project, this may end up being like the avenue of trees from Sydenham Station along Marrickville Road to the Marrickville shopping strip that was promised by a Council vote in 2010, but still remains invisible.

Two Tibouchina trees will be planted at the back wall

Two Tibouchina trees will be planted at the back wall

To me this design will pretty up the floor of the site, while removing all the beauty & importantly, habitat. What will happen to the thousands of birds that sleep in these trees? They will have to go somewhere else, to fight out to the death over territories.

Biodiversity is a word Council uses that is cool when they want to do something good for the environment & to be fair, they have done very good things. However, one does not improve biodiversity by removing habitat & replacing it with paving & low hedges.

The only way the tree removal can be stopped is through a rescission motion.

Here is a short video I made of the Town Hall forecourt in 2011.  Nothing has changed, including the empty garden beds. See – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFbCp6o0gs8

The red line shows how the tree can be pruned & return space to the footpath, instead of Council's choice to remove the tree.

The red line shows how the tree can be pruned & return space to the footpath, instead of Council’s choice to remove the tree.

Unofficial car park.  I counted 13 cars, & there were more parked on the footpath beside the building on Petersham Road.

Unofficial car park. I counted 13 cars, & there were more parked on the footpath beside the building on Petersham Road.  How much will it cost to pave this?

Unofficial car park.  Bollards will be removed offering more space.

Unofficial car park. Bollards will be removed offering more space.  

All these trees to go, except one Phoenix Palm.  None of the trees touch or have created visible damage to the building.

All these trees to go, except one Phoenix Palm. None of the trees touch or have created visible damage to the building.

Marrickville Town Hall as it is today

In the Council Meeting of the 16th November 2011 Marrickville Councillors discussed a report that came about from a Notice of Motion by Clr Phillips to upgrade the Marrickville Town Hall forecourt.  The report prepared by staff is alarming to me, but not, it seems to the Councillors.

A landscape & heritage & environmental impact assessment was done on the exterior of the Marrickville Town Hall by Conservation Landscape Architects in 2007. That report has been reviewed & Council is proposing restoration works to the Winged Victory memorial steps, gold lettering around the memorial base, new underground lighting, new street furniture, paving, new ‘suitable trees,’ new lighting & a potential bus stop relocation – all at an estimated cost of $450,000. The report warned that this sum could be greater once the design has been completed.

ALL the trees will be removed & 3 ‘suitable’ street trees will be planted as replacements along the side of the Town Hall.  My guess these will probably be Ornamental Cherry trees to match what has been planted on both sides of Marrickville Road to the corner of Livingstone Road.  They are cheap to buy & absolutely useless to wildlife.  The current trees along the exterior wall of the Town Hall building are 7 mature Pencil pines, 2 mature Cocas palms & 2 small Cocas palms & 1 mature Norfork Island palm.  These trees, especially the Pencil pines, add to the grandness of the building & considerably soften the façade. At dusk take a seat outside the library & listen. Literally thousands of small birds live in these trees & the sound of them settling down for the night is wonderful.  I’ve yet to meet a person who doesn’t like it.  Remove these trees & there will be an environmental impact, though I don’t know whether this has been taken into account in the environmental impact assessment. Certainly Council doesn’t care.

There are 2 mature, but small stature Pine trees in the front forecourt connected to the War Memorial & one 5-6 metre Pine tree in a planter box.  One of these Pines leans towards the pedestrian footpath, but doesn’t block pedestrian thoroughfare.  This is a total of 15 trees to be removed & the replacement with 3 as yet unspecified species.  You can bet any money that these will be small stature trees that will not obscure the view of the building & probably deciduous.  The community will be left with a sterile box. A grand box, but sterile none-the-less.

The bulk of the upgrade will deal with hard surfaces.  Any current softness will go with the removal of the trees.  The Town Hall forecourt is a hot, bleak & windy place that hasn’t changed much since the 60s.  It will be definitely be hotter & windier after the $450,000 upgrade. If the plans are any guide, I suggest that it will also be uglier.   I would hope the granite or stone used does not come from a supplier that uses child labour.  http://infochangeindia.org/livelihoods/sidelines/children-of-the-stone-quarries.html

Marrickville Council plans showing the side view of the Town Hall - before & after. Click to enlarge.

The Urban Heat Island Effect is not pseudo-science.  It has been proven that hard surfaces from the ground to the roof trap & increase heat.  That Council plans to do all this in an era of climate change baffles me.  The forecourt will certainly not be a place to meet or a place to hold civic events. This is placemaking in the reverse.

The following are excerpts from 2010 research from the US National Recreation & Park Association who say scientific testing of the nature-human health hypothesis that the strength, consistency & convergence of the findings are remarkable. “When we compare people with more versus less ready access to parks & other green environments, we find that they exhibit differences in well-being & functioning in each of the 3 trademark domains: social, psychological & physical health.  In greener settings – rooms, buildings, neighborhoods & larger areas with more vegetation, we find that people are more generous & more desirous of connections with others; we find stronger neighborhood social ties & greater sense of community, more mutual trust & willingness to help others; & we find evidence of healthier social functioning in neighborhood common spaces – more (positive) social interaction in those spaces, greater shared use of spaces by adults & children.

In less green environments, we find higher rates of aggression, violence, violent crime & property crime (like graffiti) – even after controlling for income & other differences. We also find more evidence of loneliness & more individuals reporting inadequate social support.

Greater access to green views & green environments yields better cognitive functioning; more proactive, more effective patterns of life functioning; more self-discipline & more impulse control; greater mental health overall; & greater resilience in response to stressful life events. Less access to nature is linked to exacerbated attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptoms, more sadness & higher rates of clinical depression.  People with less access to nature are more prone to stress & anxiety, as reflected not only individuals’ self-report but also measures of pulse rate, blood pressure & stress-related patterns of nervous system & endocrine system anxiety, as well as physician-diagnosed anxiety disorders.

The impacts of parks & green environments on human health extend beyond social & psychological health outcomes to include physical health outcomes. Greener environments enhance recovery from surgery, enable & support higher levels of physical activity, improve immune system functioning, help diabetics achieve healthier blood glucose levels & improve functional health status & independent living skills among older adults. By contrast, environments with less green are associated with greater rates of childhood obesity; higher rates of 15 out of 24 categories of physician-diagnosed diseases, including cardiovascular diseases; & higher rates of mortality in younger & older adults.

Most important, all of these studies take into account the role that income might play in an apparent link between access to nature and physical health outcomes. While it is true that richer people tend to have both greater access to nature & better physical health outcomes, the comparisons here show that people of the same socio-economic status who have greater access to nature have better physical health outcomes. 

While street trees, parks & public green spaces are often regarded as mere amenities—ways to beautify our communities & make life a little more pleasant, the science tells us that they play a central role in human health & healthy human functioning. Much like eating greens provides essential nutrients, so does seeing & being around green.”

Remember Marrickville was chosen for the 2010 ABC reality series Making Australia Happy because a 2008 Deakin University survey found people in the Inner West were found to be the unhappiest in the country.  A 2009 TAFE paper said that Marrickville LGA has the least green space of any other municipality in Australia, therefore opportunities to green our streetscapes & buildings like this are vitally important.  Remember that housing for 4,325 people is to be built in Marrickville.  That will be a lot of unhappy people if Council doesn’t do something to green up the area. I have for a long time noticed the inequity throughout Marrickville LGA when it comes to parks, street trees & streetscapes.

The few street trees along the shopping strip of Marrickville Road are deciduous & bare for a good chunk of the year.  The Canary Island Palms a block away from the Town Hall at the old Marrickville Hospital site are expected to be relocated somewhere when the new library complex is built & the wonderfully shaped mature Camphor laurel will be chopped down for the very odd reason that it will be in the middle of the proposed park. The other mature trees like the Casuarinas & Jacaranda will have to be chopped down for building work. 31 trees & possibly more around the back will lost just in this location. At Marrickville Town Hall one block away 15 trees will be lost.  Go around the corner to the old Marrickville RSL site where a ‘revolution’ is happening & all the street trees, 1 Hills Fig, a few Eucalypts & a few Casuarinas will also get the chop. Some have gone already.

Clr Macri, though he is happy for all the trees to be removed, is the only Councillor who wants the gold lettering of the fallen soldiers names replaced. I agree with him in this regard.  Why allow a War Memorial to become so worn?  Surely there are some WW2 soldiers still alive in the Inner West & there will certainly be descendants of these soldiers living locally.  What does this say to them?  The War Memorial in Balmain was never without wreaths at its base in the many years I lived there.  I have yet to see one at ours, though to be fair, perhaps it happens on Anzac Day.  The choice of Pencil pines around the Town Hall & the War Memorial was deliberate – they symbolize life & immortality.

The community relies on Council’s expertise to take into account research like the above when designing public spaces.  Council is in charge of providing us with a healthy green environment.  Whether they are actually doing this is a matter for debate & very much depends on where in the LGA you live.  City of Sydney Council announced last August that they intend to increase their urban forest by 50% while only few people know how many trees Marrickville Council planted this year or removed or were lost to poisoning & other kinds of vandalism.  For Sydney Council, it’s more than a matter of financial ability, it’s about an attitude & a decision to green their municipality.

I believe there should be community consultation about this upgrade. I highly doubt the community will say that they like the current plans. I think the community wants something with real substance & vision for the Town Hall forecourt.

I made a short YouTube video of the Marrickville Town Hall forecourt here –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFbCp6o0gs8

Previous post August 2010 here – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/08/26/marrickville-war-memorial-the-trees/

Marrickville Council plans of the Marrickville Town Hall as it is now. Click to enlarge.

Marrickville Council plans of the Marrickville Town Hall as they want it to look after the upgrade. Click to enlarge.

The forecourt of Marrickville Town Hall is not an attractive place

The forecourt of Marrickville Town Hall is finally getting some attention.  Clr Phillips put up a Notice of Motion at last week’s Council Meeting –

Marrickville Town Hall is one of the most significant civic locations in the municipality. At the moment the town hall’s forecourt is a jumbled mess in desperate need of a refurbishment.  The current paving consists of a mix of pebble-crete & concrete. The paving is cracked & in some places potholed. Planter boxes are located awkwardly & lie empty. The bus stop sits in the middle of the footpath with no interaction with its setting. A bench is located set at a strange angle immediately behind the bus stop. A car space is located jutting out of the town hall into the forecourt.  To restore civic pride in this area Council should look at a holistic quality redesign of the town hall forecourt with new paving, street furniture & plantings. In conjunction with the STA look at what can be done to improve the bus stop’s relation to the forecourt & town hall.”

The vote for Council to look at ways to renovate the forecourt was unanimous. A report on options will be provided to Councillors by November 2011.

Let’s hope they decide to retain the old trees around the memorial.  Also, the mature trees around the exterior of the building as these house hundreds & hundreds of birds.  The sound of birds settling down at dusk is wonderful.

In my opinion it is the forecourt that needs more trees.  The area is unattractive, hot in summer & windy & cold in winter.  It could be a nice meeting place for the community & buildings like these should be prime targets for Placemaking initiatives, particularly as they often have the space & link the community to its history.

A friend who grew up in Marrickville LGA said that the layout of the forecourt of Marrickville Town Hall hasn’t changed since the 1960s.  “It was a barren & scary place for us kids.”  Time to make it nice for everyone. Marrickville Town Hall is a beautiful building, but it looks far less than it can be.

A bit of trivia – the Australian Opera uses the Town Hall to practice & sometimes in the late afternoon you can hear their singing from the forecourt & from in front of the library.

I wrote about the forecourt of Marrickville Town Hall last August  – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/08/26/marrickville-war-memorial-the-trees/

Showing the side view of Marrickville Town Hall with the entrance to the current Library. The trees here are home to hundreds of birds & in my opinion complement the building & should stay

 

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

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