Box Hill to Ringwood Rail Trail

 

SAY NO TO THE SOUTHERN SHARED USE PATH THROUGH LABURNUM & BLACKBURN – 

Flyer for Blackburn and Laburnum residents

 

BLACKBURN & DISTRICT
TREE PRESERVATION SOCIETY INC. P.O. Box 5, Nunawading, 3131

Eastern Projects
Box Hill to Ringwood Rail Trail Vicroads eastern_projects@roads.vic.gov.au

10 January 2016

Dear Box Hill to Ringwood Bike Path Project Team

In December 2015, members of the Blackburn and District Tree Preservation Society Inc. (BDTPS) attended the Vicroads Community Information sessions concerning the proposed Box Hill to Ringwood Rail Trail (BHRRT) route through Laburnum, Blackburn, Nunawading, Mitcham and Heatherdale.

Prior to attending these sessions our membership (numbering 80 individuals and community groups, mostly associated with Whitehorse) assumed that, as ‘rail trail’ implies, and is the case for other rail trails throughout Victoria, the route would be located on railway reserve land.

We were wrong!

It is apparent from the plans exhibited at the information sessions that the preferred route through these suburbs will:

  • Cut through treed linear parks, open spaces and reserves in Laburnum (e.g.

    Laburnum Station Gardens), Mitcham (e.g. Brunswick Park) and Heatherdale

  • Include a section that will negatively impact street trees in Laburnum Street andthe canopy trees in Elmore Walk, Blackburn
  • Have a deleterious effect on mature, healthy trees in private ownership alongGlen Ebor and Oliver Avenues and Cromwell Court Blackburn (especially if therail trail route will be on the south side of the railway reserve)
  • Negatively impact mature canopy trees including remnant Eucalypts in Mitcham including:

    o The trees in Brunswick Park

    o Remnant trees immediately west and east of Cochrane Street and north of Brunswick Road (this area includes the planned pathway and bridge construction)

    o Trees within the narrow linear park link between Cochrane Street and Purches Street

    o The existing trees (including remnant Eucalypts) along Tennyson Street(north of the railway line) and

    o The link through to Heatherdale Railway Station and Heatherdale Road (which did contain over 40 mature Pine trees that have recently been removed).

The tree society is opposed to cycling commuter paths such as the BHRRT being installed within linear parks to the detriment of other park users including pedestrians, rail commuters and people undertaking a range of passive recreational pursuits.
Of particular concern is the planned BHRRT route south of the railway reserve between Laburnum and Nunawading.
Parks that will be negatively impacted by a commuter trail south of the railway line include the Laburnum Station Gardens, Elmore Walk, trees bordering Morton Park and the Seventh Day Adventist land in Nunawading.

The tree society has grave concerns that there will be substantial loss of or damage to existing vegetation in these open spaces including to important indigenous remnant trees with high amenity, conservation and habitat values.

In addition the residents of Glen Ebor and Oliver Avenues and Cromwell Court Blackburn have realistic fears that mature trees within their back gardens bordering the railway reserve will be damaged by commuter path construction works adjacent to their northern property boundaries should the southern trail route be preferred. They are particularly concerned about the risk of moderate to severe damage to tree root systems and tree canopies with subsequent destabilization and the ultimate loss of the trees.

To allay the fears of the membership of the tree society and the broader Whitehorse community the BDTPS committee urges you to:

  1. Locate theBHRRT on the northern side of the railway reserve from Laburnum to Nunawading
  2. Consult with the residents of Blackburn whose trees may be impacted by the railtrail and/or grade separation works and allay their fears of tree damage and lossas detailed above
  3. Make public the numbers,species and locations of trees and shrubs that will beremoved to make way for the rail trail on public and private land
  4. Make public a landscape-planting plan (again with numbers,species and locations) to replace the vegetation and canopy loss as a consequence of the rail trail project. Ideally the replacement plantings would be within or close to the project site and be composed largely of indigenous species of local provenance
  5. Make sure that no environmental weed species are included in the planting plan
  6. Provide a schedule for the planting works and a management plan for their carein the short to medium term

Yours sincerely

David Berry
Blackburn and District Tree Preservation Society Inc. C/- 34 Indra Road
Blackburn South VIC 3130
0413 457 184

 

Submission re Tree & Vegetation Impacts Feb 2016 

27 June 2016

An Open Letter To Michael Hassett, the Whitehorse Cyclists Inc. and VicRoads

It’s an understatement that the VicRoads/Whitehorse Cyclists Inc. southern shared use path project through Laburnum and Blackburn has sparked ‘disagreements’ (‘Path sparks disagreements’, Whitehorse Leader 20 June 2016).
It has done much more than this – it has inflamed community outrage!

The frightening combination of arrogance and naivety exhibited by Whitehorse Cyclists Inc. spokesperson Mr. Michael Hassett is obvious to all as evidenced by his ignorance of the collateral damage caused by the southern-shared use path construction between Laburnum and Nunawading. An excerpt from the Whitehorse Leader newspaper article states:

‘ … Mr Hassett also said he was surprised at the number of trees which would need to be removed to make way for the level crossing works and shared-use path …’
Where have you been Michael? What were you; your Whitehorse Cyclists’ cronies and VicRoads thinking when you came up with this foolish plan?

Major environmental damage is unavoidable should your preferred southern route be accepted. Laburnum Station Gardens, Laburnum Street, Elmore Walk, the Blackburn Station Gardens, Morton Park, the back gardens of Glen Ebor residents and the Seventh Day Adventist land all trashed as a three-metre concrete path is bulldozed through.
Here are some facts for you to ponder as more trees are chopped down or severely compromised in Laburnum, Blackburn and Nunawading to make way for this folly:

  1. Two mature trees (a Eucalypt and a Liquidambar) will be removed in the Laburnum Station Gardens. A further 8 park trees including mature Ironbark Eucalypts and a privately-owned Pin Oak will have their tree protection zones impacted by the path works. (Reference: VicRoads Box Hill to Ringwood Bike Path Alignment Report March 2016).
  2. VicRoads has bowed to community pressure and will not now be building the path along the northern side of Laburnum Street to Elmore Walk which would have required the removal of at least 12 mature Pin Oak street trees collectively worth ~ $80,000. This begs the question of where the path will go? (Reference: VicRoads Box Hill to Ringwood Bike Path Alignment Report March 2016 & Whitehorse Council Tree Valuation Tool).
  3. VicRoads still exercises the possibility of building the concrete path through Elmore Walk with the loss of 12 mature trees, mostly Eucalypts, collectively worth ~$120,000. (Reference: VicRoads Box Hill to Ringwood Bike Path Alignment Report March 2016 & Whitehorse Council Tree Valuation Tool).
  4. The Blackburn Level Crossing Authority (BLXRA) plans to remove 40 trees (38 in public ownership) to construct the ‘new South Parade path’ near the IGA supermarket. (Reference: Revised Blackburn Level Crossing Removal Project; Update on tree management for the Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society, May 2016).
  5. The properties bordering the railway reserve in Glen Ebor & Oliver Avenues and Cromwell Court, Blackburn face the compulsory removal of trees from their back gardens due to railway cutting and shared-use path works. Between 70 and 100 trees are impacted by the works with major impacts on tree protection zones reported. A case study of three properties (2 Cromwell Court, 41 and 49 Glen Ebor Avenue) demonstrates that for a dozen of the trees slated for removal the Blackburn Level Crossing Removal Authority arborist report makes a clear distinction between the anticipated tree root damage from the level crossing removal (i.e. the creation of the cutting) and the construction of the shared use path on the southern side of the rail corridor. The report reveals that these trees won’t be (or will be only minimally) impacted by the railway works but will be severely impacted by the construction of the southern-shared use path. The trees, numbered 167-169, 173, 174, 211-215, 275, 278 and 282 would be retained if the southern-shared use path was abandoned in favour of the community-preferred route on the northern side of the railway reserve where there is scant vegetation and plenty of space. (References: Artio and Homewood consulting arborists, 2015-2016).
  1. In light of the above case study there is strong community suspicion that the BLXRA and VicRoads have been less than honest with the community. Their rejection of community claims that the southern shared use path construction would cause considerable damage to the historic stand of Cypress Trees in Morton Park and the significant and historic trees in the Blackburn Station Gardens appears to be self-serving nonsense.
    • 63 of the 66 Morton Park Cypress Trees were assessed as ‘Worthy of Retention’. The trees are collectively worth over a million dollars. They are being cut down now!
    • Only 50 of the 250 trees and large shrubs in the Blackburn Station Gardens were assessed as ‘Not Worth Retaining’. The trees in the gardens are worth in excess of one million dollars including a 100-year old Oak Tree worth $100,000. Sadly, most of these trees have already been cut down.
    • In those sections of the Blackburn Station Gardens and Morton Park where the railway cutting/drainage works required tree removals, the subsequent construction of the 3-metre wide concrete shared use path over the top will exclude ANY substantial replanting in the park and the gardens. This alone is sufficient reason to re-locate the path to the northern side! (Reference: Hundreds of Blackburn and Laburnum residents, pers. comm.; Homewood consulting arborists Preliminary Impact Assessment, 2015 & Whitehorse Council Tree Valuation Tool).
  2. Thirty-two historic Pine Trees and indigenous Eucalypts will be removed with the railway/shared use path construction works on the Seventh Day Adventist land, near the Nunawading Christian School oval. Whilst construction works access has required the removal of a few trees in the north-east corner of the land it is interesting to note that the railway line is ‘at grade’ in this location i.e. no railway cutting works are required. However the southern shared use path will be constructed near these trees and one can only assume that the trees will be removed because of the path works. (Reference: Level Crossing Removal Project Furlong, Main, Blackburn, Heatherdale, Design Package B27, Shared Use Path, Final Design, October 2015 & Artist’s impression of new railway cutting, Level Crossing Removal Authority, May 2016).

With these facts about the southern shared use path now at your disposal Michael, we in the tree society hope, along with the Laburnum and Blackburn communities, that your public utterances in the future will be much better informed.

The Laburnum and Blackburn communities say to a southern shared-use path and

to the northern ‘community’ route! The tree society committee and our 80+ members support this community view because the northern ’community’ shared use path route results in minimal tree and vegetation impacts.

David Berry
President
Blackburn & District Tree Preservation Society Inc.

 

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