In January Councillor Nuatali Nelmes asked a council officer if the ground-penetrating radar report would be in the information provided to the public looking into redesigning our perfect-looking street and very good CBD park.
Remember the radar investigation was done because council said there weren’t any roots to keep the fig trees stable. At the charade someone asked the young arborist who was picked from who-knows-where to address the group when the people attending would be provided with the report.
When the answer was they wouldn’t, I was able to produce 20 copies of the pics and the conclusion. It was a moment to savour; I just regret leaving 2 copies on Ms Judy Jaeger’s table: she’s the Future Cities Director for council and directly responsible for the charade. My manners got the better of me. (It was probably the only time in the day and a half that I managed to be polite.)
If council had properly briefed the people involved in the charade he would have been able to say that a fuzzy copy of it is available in ‘Key Documents’ on the Laman Street page. This was added as late as possible – only a day prior to the charette.(Adrian Swain’s revised QTRA is available here as well; his conclusion on page 10 is
‘Notwithstanding casebook history of failures of similar trees in the area, and the knowledge we have of the remaining root plates these trees have a reasonable probability of failure however it is my opinion less than those previously failed…
The calculated risk of harm is [1 in 14 400, which is] within an acceptable limit…subject to the continued implementation of the current risk management strategy.’
Because we need a non-fuzzy, decent-sized version of the report, it’s now available on the home page, ‘About Us’ above the Blogroll. I have downloaded it here on the photobucket website because the 2 hours my daughter and I spent trying to download it on this page were sadly wasted… When you’re looking at the images if you double-click on them they will enlarge; if you then click again on the image it will magnify a little more. (Sorry to tell you stuff you already know.)
After you have a look at the pictures from the maps, I want you to keep in your head that the arborist at the charade said what looked like roots can’t possibly be roots, they’re just reflections from the minerals in the bitumen… How interesting that they have a radial pattern. We came away cross with each other. This was the third such heated conversation I had on day one.
I know some of the trees appear to have no root system or only a possible root system, but nowhere near the number council say have no roots at all.
An arborist told me on day one of the charette that radar investigations are highly accurate. How does one judge the truth in an area like this? Some extremely polite residents at the charade stood up and complimented the council on what a good job they had done.
I suppose if you call
- keeping people so busy that they couldn’t have debates and long discussions
- separating people who came together – that was a clever start
- not having anyone there other than Phil Hewett who actually had any background knowledge – and you couldn’t use him all the time because getting rid of mature trees could possibly be the opportunity of a lifetime for an arborist
- having a computer mock-up of two possible designs for Civic Park that bear an eerie resemblance to the 2005 Civic Park plan with less trees, more concrete, moved war memorials, no memorial grove, no fig trees and a celebration of the railway line that used to go through the park. Astoundingly these clever landscape architects were able to use two students to come up with these overnight
- misrepresenting people’s views on the rail line (the day two summary said people saw the rail line as a barrier between the harbour and the park; this was the only time anyone shouted because it was such obvious corruption of the view of the majority present)
- getting people to write on sticky notes – what is that about?
- refusing to talk about possible replacement trees for Laman Street
- no discussion about a time-line to get rid of the trees
- blocking any discussion of the trees even at twenty minutes before it finished
- and basically ignoring the future of the trees which started the whole thing altogether
then they did extremely well.
The young arborist was interesting – he showed photos of failed Hill’s figs from Bruce Street and when asked if he had photos available of the failed Laman Street figs he said he didn’t have them with him.
Has anyone seen the photos taken by Phil Hewett after the 2007 storm? Has anyone seen the photos showing no roots from the trenching done recently? One of the attendees at the charade says he was told by Phil Hewett that the shot on NBN news of a trench with roots in it was from ? round the corner or some rubbish. They think we have a higher level of trust than we do or indeed that they deserve.
I think it speaks volumes that they were so obstructive when I tried to get copies of the radar report in the first place. I must have posted already about how I had to ask a friend who’s a FOI lawyer from a media organisation to get the report in the end. If it’s so unreliable and such a waste of time, why have they been so obtuse about it?
Here’s some other titbits:
Mr Hewett has lived on the Central Coast for many years. He’s not even a Newcastle resident.
The cenotaph was described as blocking the view – RSL watch out.
Allegedly all the mature trees are diseased or damaged in some way.
Plane trees go brown because they’re diseased.
Judy Jaeger was asked at the end if the facilitators were going to be given more background info about the trees to go away with and she said, ‘We were asked to run a workshop on the whole precinct and that’s what we’ve done.’ (Not her exact words.)
They were asked not to hold the next meeting of this business in the middle of school holidays and on a working day: the first anyone there heard about this third day – April 8 -was soon after we turned up in the morning. Well done. Bet you 20cents they have it during the day. They lament not having young people at these things and then they turn around and paint over their graffiti wall and try to take the all ages venue away from them.
Thanks to Sharon Healey for the great Clyde Street photo. Home