Maclean residents 'helpless' as historic trees cut down
THE DEMISE of two of the four controversial camphor laurel trees in Maclean is confirmation the views of the townsfolk do not count, says a former town planner.
Warren Rackham, who was a town planner with Maclean Shire Council prior to amalgamation, said he experienced a feeling of loss as he watched council workers lop branches off the two trees in McLachlan Park.
The removal of the trees is the initial part of a $1.3-million upgrade of the park, which has been in the planning pipeline for more than a decade.
Mr Rackham, who said he represented the Maclean Scottish Town Association, said he was pretty wound up as he watched workers lop branches off the trees yesterday morning.
He said the removal of the trees was just further proof of the intransigence of the Clarence Valley Council when it came to the views of the Maclean community.
"They haven't listened to the views of the people; they've made their minds up and listened with lip service, pat you on the head, thank you for your input and then go away and do exactly what they were going to do in the first place," he said.
Mr Rackham said while he was sad to see the trees go because of what it represented to the community, he said Maclean would eventually get a better park from it.
"I've got no doubt we will have something better in the future than what we've got now," he said.
"But it didn't have to happen the way it has. We could have got it sooner and cheaper if council had been more responsive to the wishes of the community."
Mr Rackham said the council could not just say the camphor laurels were a noxious weed that should be removed.
"If that's the case then they need to show how they've going to remove camphor laurels in Grafton," he said.
"Are they going to cut down the big camphors outside Grafton Courthouse and along Victoria St."
A born and bred Lower Clarence woman, Deborah Lyons, said the vibe around McLachlan Park was sad and desperate on Sunday morning.
"Everyone there felt so helpless; that they could do nothing about it," she said. "There was was a vibe of helplessness about it.
"It was intense, I didn't think it was going to affect me the way it did."
She said as people watched council workmen removing limbs from the trees, they were sharing experiences and memories they had of the park.
"So much of the town's life has happened under the shade of these trees," she said.
Ms Lyons said as a gardener she was distressed to see two healthy trees cut down and the branches just mulched.
"It made be a bit angry to see big, long branches just mulched down to nothing," she said.
"I hope the big ends of the trees are going to be used in a more useful way."
The council's director corporate governance and works, Troy Anderson, said the tree removal was just part of the program of works for the park.
"Everything appears to be going according to plan," he said.
Mr Anderson denied there was any targeting of tree species in the McLachlan Park works.
"It's just putting into action the plan of management of the park, which called for the removal of those trees," he said.
"This isn't a targeted thing to any trees and the community needs to understand that."
Mr Anderson said the plan of management of the park was linked to State Government regulations and the only way to change it would be to clear it with the relevant minister.