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Acrobatic dinner

This was the Land Use Assets Meeting & the Services Committee Meeting. The following was my understanding of the meeting & all mistakes are mine. To cut down the length of this post I will mostly remove “he said/she said” with the comments coming after the person’s name.

Pedestrian crossing on Ewart Street Dulwich Hill – The Traffic Committee approved the crossing, but staff recommended it be considered as part of future budgets because the RTA think it is not warranted & have indicated they will appeal if Council goes ahead & builds it.

A resident spoke for the pedestrian crossing saying the following: residents were upset that the crossing was not going ahead, she had addressed Council about this last July. The pedestrian crossing was on the route to Dulwich Hill Primary School & that it was hard to get the kids safely across to the pedestrian refuge or see cars coming. It was not enough for Council to just use speed cushions. The residents want speed cushions on all 3 entry points as well as signs & warning bumps.  They also want to meet with staff to find a safe, suitable outcome.  I last wrote about this issue here – https://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2010/07/14/report-from-the-gallery-–-13th-july-2010/

This verge in Marrickville is cool & very pretty

One resident spoke against the pedestrian crossing. Over the past 17-years he had never seen anyone wait for more than 2-minutes to cross the road. The community was angry about losing more parking spaces & thought the crossing was a waste of money. Parking was at a premium already.  30 signatures against the crossing were collected over the weekend.

Both Clrs Tsardoulias & Olive said it was reasonable for Council to persist with building the crossing despite the RTA. Clr Olive: the RTA needs to know people want better pedestrian access & quieter streets.  Clr Tsardoulias: wanted angle parking investigated.  Mayor Byrne: Council could do their own usage counts during the periods before & after school.  Staff: the counts were 22 pedestrians & 580 cars between 2.30pm & 3.30pm.

Clr Thanos: it should be deferred until Council did a count as this would help with any appeal from the RTA. Any change to angle parking should be done with community consultation. Angled parking narrows the street & reduces speeding.  Clr Peters asked whether fences could be erected to prevent kids crossing closer to the roundabout. Staff: this is part of the project & that a large tree was obstructing drivers view.  Passed unanimously.

Raising the Western Sahara flag – The Secretary of the Australian Western Sahara Association asked Council to raise the Sahara flag on Western Sahara National Day saying in the past it has been raised in 3 places in Melbourne, in Perth, Hobart & in other Australian cities. 35-years-ago most of Western Sahara was invaded by Morocco. Since then the people were denied freedom of assembly & expression & their mineral resources were exploited.  Raising the Western Sahara flag would extend strong support & solidarity & encourages our & other governments to put pressure on Morocco to do a free & fair referendum.

Magpie

Clr Phillips said he was once involved in the Western Papua cause & knows that raising the flag means so much to those fighting an uphill battle for recognition, as the neither the public or the media know much about these issues.  He supported raising the flag & said it was a small gesture.   Clr Kontellis: peoples’ opposition movements are often turning to Council &  supported raising the flag.

Clr Hanna: against anything like this because it has nothing to do with the people of Marrickville. Clr Thanos: a member of the community have asked Council to do it & because it is in the Charter it is therefore within Council’s business.  He reminded that Council raises the Greek flag every year & dared the Councillors to say they will stop doing this.  Council has a long history of raising many flags.

Clr Olive: the Telegraph said that Council wants to do things for countries that don’t even exist, yet we did it for Aung San Suu Kyi & the Dalai Lama who doesn’t even live in his own country. It’s wholly consistent to support oppressed minorities within their own countries.  The Telegraph should look at the Cooks River, Mackey Park, Kendrick Park & Enmore Pool, as Council are doing the nuts & bolts work & also try to represent oppressed people when our residents let us know about them.

Clr Macri:  he wouldn’t support, as this is just one corner around the world. The public expects us to represent them.  It costs $600 to tie a banner on the balcony so why was there no cost? Council cannot take up every issue even at home; the plight of the Aborigines & disaster victims. A lot of people are disturbed by all the out-of-town issues Council is involved with. The Sister City program was about community, not alliances.  Staff time is being taken up with the out-of-town issues.   For: Clrs Olive, Kontellis, Peters, Byrne, Phillips & Thanos. Against: Clrs Macri, Hanna, Tsardoulias, Iskandar, O’Sullivan & Wright. Clr Tsardoulias used his casting vote to deny the request. Not passed.

Sister Cities program – A resident spoke about the decision to boycott Israeli services & products at a recent Council Meeting.  She asked Council to develop a practical peace-based project regarding Bethlehem & Palestine & said this was already happening with Leichhardt Council. There are hundreds of Jewish people in Marrickville LGA & it was insulting that Council had not involved them. People were shocked & distressed.  Council are not here to do this. Council didn’t involve the Palestinian constituents either. The boycott of Israel is not on Council’s Sister City Report & Judaism is linked to Israel.  The boycott of Israel is not dialogue & co-operation. She asked, why did Council not talk to the Jewish community?  Where is the process that allows the Jewish community to speak with Council & to start a peaceful process? They were offering themselves to work with Council together for peace.  Council’s approach was ‘last century’ & outdated taking out the bad guy to go with the good.  (Around 35 members/supporters of the Jewish community attended tonight’s Council Meeting)

Clr Iskandar: It was a good report. The Sister Cities Program is very different to the decision the previous speaker was talking about.  Sister Cities means peace, inclusion, 2 sides working together in peace & harmony.  There was no intention to exclude any resident inside or outside Marrickville.  We visited Bethlehem & the people were suffering, but have hope that both sides will sit together & have peace. Council is not against the Israeli people; we are just supporting the Palestinians, that one day they will have their own state Israel recognizes. He invited people to participate in any Sister Cities program, but under the new code.

Great when in flower & not pruned too hard

Clr Thanos: He didn’t agree with the Sister Cities policy & would not vote for it. Staff are trying to get a balanced approach because we have too many sister cities. He didn’t agree with having 2 categories of sister cities; those we actively relate to & those we don’t.  He hadn’t seen anything come out of the Sister Cities program for the last 2 years. The Sister Cities Program was outdated & last century, but Council should keep agreement with Bethlehem, always acknowledging Israel’s right to exist & Passchendaele because the children who are buried there had links to Marrickville.  Council hasn’t heard from Kos for 10 years & we could keep Larnaca because of the Cyprus Club is active in our community, but the other cities served no purpose.

Mayor Byrne supported the motion. Clr Peters: The residents have misrepresented Council’s stance on the BDS.  The Palestinians were facing an acute lack of water on the West Bank & only existing on 20% of water. Let’s see if we can work here about the problems of Bethlehem so that the people can grow food & survive.

Clr Phillips: The Sister Cities Program was last century, restrictive & outdated & asked whether Council would be better off promoting exchanges & also do this is Africa & other parts of the world.  Clr Marci:  It was hard to maintain a Sister Cities relationship in such a diverse place & that the locals here are concerned about losing local harmony. He was concerned that the Sister Cities has been hijacked & tarnished by the boycott & wanted programs where Palestinians & Israelis could work together instead of Council being the laughing stock of the world. He has been inundated with emails asking what Israel has to do with Council when they can’t fix the grass. He would support the resolution, Council needs to look at the program & not alienate any of our community.

Clr Hanna:  He supported the resolution.  A Councillor went on radio & said a lot of churches & people asked Council to do the boycott, yet he has not heard anyone say this. We are not the Foreign Affairs Minister & we all work part time.  He was only interested in helping locals & had no intention of running for parliament.  He gave the program 12-months more support. Clr Kontellis:  The criteria for assessing the Sister Cities relationships was ‘poor,’ ‘fair’ & ‘good’ & that the majority of indicators were poor. This says a lot about the Sister Cities Program. She said she was uncomfortable with the outcome & wanted to know how long Council would be supporting an outdated, meaningless program.  Carried with Clrs Phillips, Kontellis & Thanos against.

There were some other items on the agenda. For brevity, I have not reported on them. They attracted little debate.  Here ends the Report for this week.

Grevillea - another great food source for wildlife

Street art in May Lane St Peters

This was the Services Committee Meeting. Absent – Clrs Thanos & Wright. The following is how I understood the meeting & any mistakes are mine.

Street art & graffiti in May Lane & surrounding areas St Peters – Background: After 3 community consultations, Council has a 16-point plan to address street art & graffiti in May Lane & surrounding areas. They include cleaning up May Lane West, renaming this section, increasing the number of rubbish bins, increasing lighting & garbage removal, converting May Lane into a shared zone & setting up regular community forums.

A resident spoke for the street art saying she has seen positive aspects & was happy with Council’s process. She said May Lane was already a shared space, but cars regularly drive the wrong way, especially the weekly garbage truck.  She said this was dangerous due to the many pedestrians. She said she had made a documentary on May Lane that is travelling Australia.  The next speaker was from Graphic Art Mount who said the project began in 2005 with young people approaching them to ask if they could paint their walls. They now get applications to paint from overseas.   She said May Lane showcases street artists & provides a platform for current street art practice. She said Bathurst Regional Gallery is taking street art on a 2-year national tour. She said she was concerned that Council wanted to clean up May Lane East as the business was having art tours to look at the walls & that a lot of the street artists were becoming well known. She also said the business had invested $35,000 per year into the project.

The next speaker spoke for the street art & said he was a senior lecturer on Urban Geography at Sydney University who researches graffiti management policy around the world. He commended Council on their process saying that graffiti management is usually based on prejudice, rather than evidence & that Marrickville Council was a role model for other councils.  He said street art contributes to the community & generates international tourism. He said there would be a “massive amount of goodwill” from the street artists if they were included in any consultation & that senior street artists teach ethics to new younger artists. He said cleaning the walls could send a mixed message that street artists are not welcome.

2 residents spoke against the street art. The first said she supported street art & had seen it get kids off the streets & that the behaviour of the street artists & not the art was the issue for her. She said she gets a lot of aggression directed toward her & that she had recently seen a woman with kids in the car have the 4 doors kicked in by pedestrians in May Lane. She said the lane was an “accident waiting to happen” with photographers blocking the lane, pedestrians & traffic. She said May Lane is now a street art lane & Council won’t be able to recover it.  She said Council should look after May Lane instead of the art shop paying $35,000 a year & that Council should provide more areas for street art. She said Council hadn’t thought May Lane through, had allowed it to go on for 6 years & sponsors websites that show tags. She said the shop 567 King Street that sells spray paint & ‘tag ‘n run’ texta’s should come under control.

May Lane St Peters

The next resident said she was also a senior lecturer at Sydney University. She said Council hadn’t addressed the demarcation between residents & artists & reminded that the work was done on the back of residential properties.  She said a lot of people (20-50 at a time) using spray cans causes a fine drift of paint and fumes & residents were complaining of asthma & headaches. The dumping of rubbish, alcohol use & aggression towards residents were also an issue. She said most people think it is legal to graffiti walls & the street artists were encroaching on the residents clean air & the kind of place they live.  She said she has a Phd in Public Health & just because we can’t find evidence that breathing spray paint causes harm, doesn’t mean it doesn’t. She said she would like to see May Lane West cleaned & renamed Harriet Lane so that the painting becomes concentrated in May Lane East. She also said Councillors encouraging street art can encourage ‘vandalism tourism.’

May Lane St Peters

Clr O’Sullivan said that local police say boys from North Shore private schools are coming to St Peters to engage in illegal activity that they wouldn’t do in their own area. Council is trying to reconcile gallery & street artists & the distress of residents by the success of this gallery.  She said residents feel unsafe at time after dark with people doing something at their back gate. She said this is not the gallery’s project & that Marrickville Council set it up & manages it. She put up a motion that Council audit the websites they sponsor to ensure they don’t recommend tagging, that during the clean up the walls on May Lane West are not erased & that the cleanup include Appleby Street.

Clr Peters asked whether some artistic lighting could be used instead of ordinary lighting. Staff said community safety was the issue, but they would look at lighting options as part of the environmental assessment.   Clr Hanna said he was happy Council was looking into this problem & wanted the cleanup to be done as soon as possible, not wait until next year.

Clr Phillips put up an amendment regarding renaming May Lane West, Harriet Lane to look at using an Aboriginal name instead & wanted consultation with the Aboriginal community about choosing a name.  Staff said Harriet was the name of one of the daughters of the owner of the brick pits & that the names of other daughters have been used. He said consultation with the Aboriginal community has shown a spilt as to whether Cadigal names can be used.   Clr Phillips said he thought the Aboriginal Consultative Committee should decide whether they have a suitable name.

Clr Olive supported using an Aboriginal name, but said it had been 2 years & no names had been put forward yet & Council needed to get this process through.  He said a key part of the strategy was changing the name of May Lane West immediately.  Clr Byrne supported motion & said Council needs a long-term strategy with forums & a working party with residents involved.  Clr Hanna said he was against the amendment because it would delay the process, not because it would be an Aboriginal name.

Clr Peters said that the Aboriginal Consultative Committee meets this December & should be given the opportunity.  Clr O’Sullivan said she opposed the amendment even though she was a member of the Aboriginal Consultative Committee saying it was unfair to give them an urgent matter at their AGM. Clr Kontellis supported the motion saying the Aboriginal Consultative Committee can come up with a name & if they don’t, Council can revert back to Harriet.  Amendment to rename – Carried. (I only managed to get the following names) For: Clrs Kontellis, Phillips, Byrne & Peters. Against: Clrs Olive, O’Sullivan & Hanna. Clr Kontellis using her casting vote. I don’t know which way Clrs Iskandar & Tsardoulias voted.  Clr O’Sullivan’s motion was carried unanimously.

Here ends the Report for this week.

A selection of street art in May Lane St Peters

Land Use & Assets Committee Meeting & the Services Committee Meeting.  Absent: Mayor Iskandar, Clrs O’Sullivan, Kontellis, Hanna & Thanos.  The sound was almost perfect & the gallery could hear well. It was wonderful when the minutes were made full-screen as this allowed the gallery to read what was being recorded & keep up with what was being debated. Thanks for that as well.  As usual, all mistakes are mine.

The DA for the old Marrickville RSL site on Illawarra Road was postponed until next week’s Council Meeting. As Clr Macri is a member of the Joint Regional Planning Panel he has a conflict of interest in the item. He would have to absent himself, which would leave insufficient Councillors in attendance to make a quorum.

Local Traffic Planning & Advisory Committee – Regional Cycleway Route 5 –  Council

Beautiful old Brush Box casts a shadow across the road

has 2 options for the route from Victoria Road Marrickville to Cooks River path at Mackey Park.   In Fitzroy Street they plan for either a bike/parking lane or a protected 2-way cycle lane, which will result in loss of 62 parking spaces.  In Carrington Road they plan to have a 2-way cycle path losing 17 parking spaces. This will be exhibited for public consultation.

2 residents from Fitzroy Street spoke against the proposal saying 20 residents had met regarding the plans. Issues were: loss of parking, high volume traffic, parking needed for businesses, Marrickville Bowling Club & residential housing. They said Sydney Street had lots of double-parked trucks, as there were no off-street loading docks & the gutter was 3-4 feet deep in water when it rained. They suggested a shared pedestrian/bike footpath instead.

Clr Olive moved to defer & take back to the Traffic Committee who should consult with local bike group MASSBUG, saying problems could be fixed before the plan was exhibited for public consultation.  He outlined a number of suggestions for other areas along the proposed route. Clrs Byrne, Phillips, Macri supported the motion. Clr Tsardoulias said he wouldn’t as these issues could be dealt with after community feedback when the plan is exhibited.  Carried.

Dulwich Hill Local Area Traffic Management Scheme – 1 resident spoke about the plans

Trees on a garden island bed in Tempe

for Yule Street saying she has been in contact with Council for 3 years regarding speeding traffic & although assured this would be addressed, found that no traffic calming measures have been included in the new plans despite Council acknowledging vehicles speed 7kms above the limit here. She said there is a bike path here & 2 schools nearby & the street needed traffic calming devices.

2 residents spoke about the round-about at Ewart Street. One brought in a large diagram that allowed her to clearly show the multiple problems facing this pedestrian crossing.  They said large numbers of children use this pedestrian crossing to travel to 3 schools, a local park & a nearby skate park & it was a very dangerous crossing.  The community wanted Council to install speed cushions at all 3 entries to the round-about, add signage, flashing lights, warning bumps & a raised marked zebra crossing.

After discussion about the cost of raised pedestrian crossings & issues of roadside drainage, the Council will look at meeting the requests of the community regarding the pedestrian crossing & the round-about on Ewart Street & to install angle parking & other calming measures in Yule Street.

Camden Street Enmore – request to reduce length of ‘no stopping’ zone – A resident spoke saying this is a high traffic street with lots of congestion & regular gridlocks. He said there was no community consultation & Council’s recommendation does not address safety issues. Clr Wright moved to defer for community consultation with a view to making Camden a 1-way street. Clr Olive was concerned as he thought people drove faster in 1-way streets.  Carried.

Inner West Light Rail Feasibility Study – A resident spoke against the study saying the

Beautiful old Camphor Laurel on Glebe Point Road

overall consultation process “was appalling” & his local Member has not responded to his communication.  He was very concerned about the placement of Waratah Station as the platform is 15 metres from his back garden & worried about noise, loss of privacy & security, increased traffic especially ‘kiss & ride’ traffic. He said there were 3 stations in close proximity to each other & the Greenway detour should go along Victoria Street instead.

Clr Wright said Council didn’t made the decision where stations would be placed & put forward a resolution to ask the state government whether there is a need for so many stations in such close proximity & ask them to revisit the bike path between Davis & Canterbury Road to see if it can be kept within the light rail corridor.  Carried.

Proposed Parking Management Study – Council recommended a budget allocation of 300,000 to undertake a LGA-wide parking study, the money to be taken from Section 94 reserves & Car Parking.   Clr Wright was against waiting for the study & thought work should be done in areas so Council has results.  Clr Olive was against spending so much money on a parking study.  He asked that raised pedestrian crossings be the standard in Marrickville LGA & the feasibility of this was discussed at length.  Essentially, the cost of raised crossings can be significantly higher if storm water drainage is not in-situ. Outcome was that raised crossings is the preferred model & done where costs aren’t prohibitive. Carried.

Sale of part of Crescent Lane – T.J Andrews Funeral Services wanted to buy part of the lane for parking of funeral cars & the organization of corteges. The area has been fenced off & inaccessible for more than 20 years. Carried.

All other items carried without discussion.  Meeting ended.

Next was the Services Committee Meeting.

Coptic Church – Council recommended inviting expressions of interest from parties

Gorgeous row of street trees in Livingstone Road Marrickville

willing to renovate the building for use as an artists studio/gallery, performance space, general community facility, including place of worship.

Clr Olive wanted Council to prepare a business plan to take over the building for use as artist studio space for rent & to do this concurrently while seeking expressions of interest. Staff advised it would be poor practice for Council to take this approach. Clr Wright wouldn’t support doing this concurrently, but would support if no suitable expressions of interest were received.

Clr Peters noted the many discrepancies in costing assessments in the repair quote. (The last quote was $2.288 million) Clr Macri said the plan for Council to spend such a large amount of money for 30 artists to pay rent “revolted” him & he would put up a rescission motion if it got up. Carried. Clrs Macri, Wright & Tsardoulias against.

Henry Tax Review & Housing Affordability – Clr Macri said he didn’t believe some of the factors in the report saying he thought it was due to a lack of supply & there wasn’t a need for a broadbase tax.  He said some of the aspects in the report will remove incentive for people to invest in rental housing. Clr Phillips disagreed with Clr Macri saying there were many other factors such as stamp duty which stops older people from moving into smaller homes, that the current taxation was encouraging people to become 1st home owners & the answer was not to pull down heritage buildings & erect apartments.  Carried with Clr Macri against.

This is the end of this week’s report.

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.

Services Committee Meeting: The Coptic Church in Sydenham. Council’s report is recommending it be demolished.  3 members of the community addressed the Councillors, petitioning to not recommend demolition.

The Marrickville Heritage Society was represented by Lorraine Beach. She spoke about the history of the church saying it was established in 1884 functioning as a Methodist Church for 100 years. The congregation in 1901 built the current church & it became home to the first Coptic Church in the late 60s.  She said the church was an asset that belonged to the whole community & is also an important link to both our history & a suburb that was obliterated by the 3rd runway. She asked Councillors to either reject demolition outright, write to Minister Albanese asking him to provide funding, do a wider community consultation & go ahead with an expression of interest campaign.  You can read her speech by clicking on the following link –  Lorraine-Beach-Address-to-Council-11-05-10 As always with my pdf docs, the last page comes first, so start at page 2 if you are reading it.

partial view of Sydenham's Coptic Church building

The second resident said the land was in the care of Council who have spent so much money towards its destruction, but no money to save it as it has been left to rot for the past 10 years.  He cited City of Sydney Council keeping its churches & asked the community be given time to save the church. He was very passionate in his concern that this church be kept for the community.

The 3rd to speak was an Anglican Bishop who said he had approached Council for a long-term lease & has been waiting for 2 years to speak to Council to indicate interest.  He thought $2.3 million was an over-estimate to restore the church & asked Council to take tenders & let the community restore it.  His advice from consulting with a construction business was that it could be restored for less than what it would cost to buy a house in the area.

window of Coptic Church Sydenham

Chair Clr Macri said he felt uncomfortable making a decision with so many Councillors being absent.  He then listed that Council had deemed the building a health risk which would cost a lot to repair, it was still sacred land & Council intended to acknowledge this with a memorial, community consultation has been performed, the state government can’t help financially & the current LEP says the building cannot be used as a church.

Clr Olive said he believed it should be retained for community use & he wasn’t elected to demolish a heritage building.  He moved a further motion to replace the tile roof with corrugated iron, replace the glass & delete the need for a lift. Staff advice cautioned about possible contravention of discrimination laws that impose accessibility obligations.  Clr Olive said it does not need to be a community building, it could be used as studio space for artists & musicians.  The upstairs studios would not have access to those with access issues & we could comply with accessibility by ensuring downstairs was accessible.  He also suggested the building be removed from Council’s Community Services to Major Projects or Technical Services.

Clr Macri said he thought the decision should be deferred & Council could look at the Bishop’s proposal.

broken windows of Sydenham's Coptic Church

Clr Phillips said he did not support demolishing the building, as there were strong arguments to keep it & it was a significant building & structurally sound.  He said he was happy to maintain it until the person with money came along & said he would like to see expressions of interest & explore options about the lift.  He thought Council had set the bar too high & no one can meet it.

Clr Byrne said she didn’t want to see the building demolished, but said Council does need to keep its obligations regarding disability & accessibility.  Clr Wright supported revisiting the issue in 2 months & supported the church groups who have consistently shown interest to resubmit.  She suggested a scaled-down version of renovations, but couldn’t support not complying with accessibility requirements.

Clr O’Sullivan supported the 2-month deferral saying the church has been one of the political stories of this Council. She said she had studied the papers back to 2006 & it is a record of stalled decisions & Councillors needed to “bite the bullet.”  She said the key issue was legislative context & Council’s responsibilities as owner or lessor.  Concerned that some may think, if they get a lease, Council will be absolved of all responsibilities & there was a distinct lack of clarity about the real issues. She said we need a realistic proposal, but was concerned when Council would have the sort of money needed for renovation. She said she valued the church & agreed with the Marrickville Heritage Society.

A man from the Gallery asked if the church roof could be fixed as it has been leaking for 8 years.

Clr Marci suggested 2-month deferral, looking at a scaled-down proposal & to hear everyone’s point of view.  Clr Olive’s motion was lost.

Clr Olive put up a second motion to write to the Federal Government, remove the responsibility for the church into Major Projects & get a further report on feasibility for use as studio, performance space or general community facility.

someone still cares for this church by painting the crosses & the sign on the entrance gate

Clr O’Sullivan was against this motion because it excluded use by a church.  Clr Phillips asked staff if there were restrictions when Council was granted control over the church saying he assumed they still applied. He suggested writing to the government to ask these restrictions be removed allowing the church to be lessors.  The Director said the current LEP restricts use as a place of worship & the new Draft LEP carries this on.  Clr Macri asked that consideration be given to allow use as a place of worship in the Draft LEP.

Clr Wright said she couldn’t support the motion if churches are not included & was uncomfortable deciding to put the building into Major Projects. Clr Byrne said she wanted the building retained & used as a functioning part of Sydney’s community. She moved an amendment that uses include a place of worship. She also said the more a decision is delayed, the more we are demolishing this building by neglect.  Seconded by Clr Wright.

The GM advised voting on assignment of responsibilities was beyond the councillor’s power.  He said the Councillors role is to charge staff with the work & staff decide which unit is assigned responsibility.

Clr Macri said Council needed the help of the community to restore the building & that Clr Byrne’s amendment allows religious groups to be users.  Clr Olive said he wanted the building to go into Major Projects because we have gone over this many times without outcome.

The amended motion was passed.  As I understand the outcome, Council will do a report looking at the extent of renovation needed to fulfil statutory requirements & put out an expression of interest to the community.  The meeting had another couple of agenda items, but I left.

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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