Part 2 of the last LSWP meeting post will have to wait + Fire escapes 27.6.2011

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The Laman Street Working Party had a workshop yesterday. Some extremely positive things came out of it. Don’t you wish you’d been there?

In not very much detail and in no particular order:

The community reps were excellent. Among other things they showed two slide shows: one of aerial roots on fig trees and one of metal gates as public art – both fantastic to see. They talked about how exclusion zones for pedestrians can be beautiful eg garden beds.

The group talked about how easy and inexpensive it would be to start encouraging aerial roots using peat moss and a hessian bag hanging off branches, as Sydney City Council has in Lillian Fowler Reserve.

The WP talked again about how the community remain unconvinced that the trees are risky or about to fall over, since most of Newcastle remember how violent the Pasha Bulker storm was which these trees survived.

To counter this the room discussed forming a panel of arborists, comprised of Council’s consultant arborists and the community’s arborists. There may need to be a little team building on that panel, but I love the idea.

Cr Osborne kept bringing us back to the resolution which is to maintain these trees. Crs Claydon and Nelmes were fantastic, talking about tree maintenance and risk management of the area. Cr Cook had promised not to attend and was true to his word. Much appreciated, seriously. There was certainly a different vibe in the room today. I wonder if the smaller size of the group was the reason.

There was a lot of time spent on what to me are sad options and what left me feeling a bit despondent at the end of the four hours: removing the three trees closest to the Art Gallery and doing what sounds like major pruning of many if not all of the trees. As far as I’m concerned, this sounds like a face-saving measure for a few people and seems to have emerged out of nowhere, but we’ll watch this space.

If it’s going to happen it would be important to assess those trees objectively first, not simply go on the subjective reports written years ago based on wrong advice that nearby trees failed in the Pasha Bulker storm when they did not.

The talk was around reducing the trees to the height of the gallery and library. Now I recognise that after a few years it probably wouldn’t even be noticeable, and I know it’s preferable to losing the whole street, but as I think it’s unnecessary and the risk is overblown it seems a sad idea. It would no doubt have a devastating effect on birdlife and bats and whatever other cute cuddly things live there.

Walking along the street yesterday, it looked as though removing this much canopy would be the same as lopping the trees which Council’s infrastructure manager pointed out would make us look like a laughing-stock, and is against Australian standards.. I look forward to being told by a few cyber bullies tree experts why I’m wrong on this.

This is only a small part of what was discussed. More soon but here’s a quiz for you: which public building in Laman Street does not have a fire exit? It wasn’t a standard requirement at the time it was built. Other places have been closed down for less. What an insurance risk. Ironic. Home

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