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The area on the corner of Marrickville & Livingstone Roads Marrickville has been suggested for a small park in front of the new Library when it is developed. Note the matching Palms across the road, part of St Bridget's Church

During the Council Meeting on 14th December 2010, Mayor Byrne put up an amendment to a motion in the agenda item ‘The Future Accommodation Requirement For Council.’  The amendment was to include a new park on the corner of Marrickville & Livingstone Roads at the old Marrickville Hospital site.

It said – A report be provided to Council regarding future short term & long term options for Precinct B for use of the precinct as a park, these could include as a forecourt to the Library. Required budget of $20,000 – timeframe May/June 2011.’

I had left the Council Meeting so was unable to report on the debate. However, the Motion was tied. The Councillors that voted for the Motion were Cls Phillips, Olive, Peters, Thanos, Byrne & Kontellis. Against the Motion – Clrs Macri, O’Sullivan, Tsardoulias, Wright, Hanna & Iskandar. The Chair Mayor Byrne used her casting vote & the motion was passed.

An Extraordinary Council Meeting was called for the 21st December 2010. Clrs Iskandar, Macri & Tsardoulias had put up a Rescission Motion which would result in removing Mayor Byrne’s motion.  I registered to speak in favour of a staff report on the viability of establishing a new park on this site. However, not enough Councillors volunteered to attend & the meeting was cancelled.

This is enormously fortunate for the community as we have time to lobby the Councillors before the Rescission Motion goes back before Council in the new year.

The question is why would we want or need a new park in Marrickville?  The following are reasons I can think of. There may be others.

Marrickville LGA has very little parkland or green space in comparison to other Councils in Sydney & is one of the lowest with parks & green space per population in Australia.

We also have high density living with another 4,150 extra residences to be built across Marrickville LGA. A good chunk of these new residences will be the planned high-rise development of Marrickville & Petersham Roads, which is basically 1 small block from the proposed park.

The DA that was recently passed by the JRPP at the old Marrickville RSL site (The Revolution) is for 9,7 & 6 storey buildings making 180 apartments. This gives an idea of how much high-rise will need to be built to accommodate 4,150 extra residences.  I don’t know how many actual people will be living along Marrickville & Petersham Roads, but it’s safe to assume that most units will house at least 2 people & many will be families.  There is going to be a huge influx of people & they are going to need green space close-by to take their kids.

Another view of the land. A park is perfect here

Neither Marrickville nor Petersham Roads have any green space nearby. The closest that I am aware of is Steele Park & the Cooks River at the bottom of Illawarra Road. This is quite a hike away.  I have never seen kids alone in these places, even teenagers.

The lack of street trees, green spaces & parks has a huge impact on the physical & mental health of people. This is accepted current research.  Without sufficient green space & greenness, there is increased incidence of mental health issues, especially depression. People get sick & take longer to recover, boys act out, girls don’t learn as well.

Lack of green space also encourages graffiti & dumping. People start to not care about their environment when there is too much grey infrastructure & Marrickville Council are about to give the consent to at least 10 times more grey infrastructure in this area.

The kids need somewhere to go. A park outside the Library is the right thing to do. Council have the perfect opportunity to do just that. It will encourage more usage of the Library services. The park can also be used as a meeting space for other groups.

There are significant trees in this section of the old hospital site & they should not be removed. Council already has the basis of a park in this space with these beautiful trees & much wildlife lives in this area. Council prides itself on its climate change initiatives, but it doesn’t do enough to keep large trees, which sequester carbon. It doesn’t make sense.

The long-term health & happiness of the residents should be worth something. Marrickville Council will get a quick financial gain from over-building this space, but a new park will pay back both Council & the community year after year.

Mayor Byrne’s motion asks only for an assessment of the feasibility of a park in this location. This is what the Councillors voted for during the first Council Meeting.

With respect to the Councillors calling for the Rescission Motion, I cannot believe that they are trying to squash a new park before it has even been looked at. Marrickville Council cannot go on allowing construction of huge residential buildings with only token green space & expect people to have a good quality of life.

Political parties & beliefs aside, I think it is robbing the people of Marrickville if the opportunity to examine if whether a park on this site is feasible is stopped.

I know it is the Christmas holiday break, but if you would send an email to the Councillors saying that you want & support a park in this location, they can assess the community’s interest.  If the Councillors receive many emails from the community they are less likely to support the Rescission Motion to stop a new park even before it gets started.  If we sit back & do nothing, chances are the Rescission Motion will get through.

Your message can be as simple as –

“I want a new park outside the new Library, corner of Marrickville & Livingstone Roads at the old Marrickville Hospital site. Please vote against the upcoming Rescission Motion that takes the new park off the agenda & prevents Marrickville Council staff from assessing the viability of a new park in this location.”

This is a campaign you can participate in from your chair.  The current & the expected massive influx of new residents to Marrickville will be pleased that the community cared enough to fight for their right to have a little patch of green space near their home for them & their kids. The wildlife that live in this location will thank you also.

You can cut & paste the Councillors email addresses into your email to make it easier. You may need to remove the ‘mailto:’ depending on your email –

mailto:fbyrne@marrickville.nsw.gov.aumailto:siskandar@marrickville.nsw.gov.au, mailto:vmacri@marrickville.nsw.gov.aumailto:mphillips@marrickville.nsw.gov.aumailto:cpeters@marrickville.nsw.gov.au,mailto:lwright@marrickville.nsw.gov.au mailto:mhanna@marrickville.nsw.gov.au, mailto:polive@marrickville.nsw.gov.aumailto:mosullivan@marrickville.nsw.gov.aumailto:mkontellis@marrickville.nsw.gov.au, mailto:dthanos@bigpond.net.au, mailto:etsardoulias@marrickville.nsw.gov.au,

I thank you. J

Another view of the area proposed for a new park

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.

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