Community members fighting for the preservation of a jacaranda tree in Chippendale are concerned about the conduct of the City of Sydney during the campaign.
Residents mobilised when council resolved to remove the tree in order to accommodate a set of traffic lights to assist the use of the Broadway Link Cycleway.
Construction of the cycleway will begin in October, with a set of traffic lights to be installed on the corner where the jacaranda tree currently stands in order to help cyclists cross the busy intersection.
Chippendale resident Danelle Bergstrom has been heading the campaign to save the tree since June of 2013. Ms Bergstrom submitted a petition of over 1100 signatures to council last month.
Ms Bergstrom expressed concerns about the manner in which council dealt with the petition.
“I originally submitted the petition with all contact details partially obscured to protect the privacy of the signatories, however I was advised that only an original copy would be accepted with all email addresses shown in full,” Ms Bergstrom said.
“Before agreeing to submit the original document, I asked Mayoral staff to confirm the contact details would not be used as any more than a reference and that no one who signed the petition would be contacted. It was stressed to me that this would definitely not happen.”
Approximately five weeks later, however, petition signatory Michelle Perry received an email from Lord Mayor Clover Moore outlining the reasons council would be going ahead with the removal of the tree.
“I refer to the petition you signed about the jacaranda tree at the corner of Myrtle and Abercrombie Streets,” the letter read.
“We will replant the jacaranda tree during the current cool weather to give the tree maximum opportunity to establish itself in the new location.”
Ms Perry said she felt this was cause for concern.
“I feel my privacy has been severely breached by the Office of the Lord Mayor as I was assured the Office would not use my contact details in this way,” she told City Hub.
A spokesperson for Lord Mayor Clover Moore said it is council’s policy to contact petitioners and that the Lord Mayor’s office is not involved.
“The Lord Mayor’s office has no involvement in replying to petitions.”
“Under the City of Sydney’s petition guidelines, we are required to respond to all petitioners, especially if their petition has been tabled at council as this one had.”
Ms Bergstrom is also concerned about council’s response to the community’s initial concerns.
“Council told me the matter was to be determined by Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) and resolved to write to RMS to request advice on whether it is necessary to remove the tree, however when I spoke to RMS they said they knew nothing about the tree,” Ms Bergstrom said.
Correspondence from RMS provided to City Hub reads: “There has been no indication of the need to remove any trees as part of the installation of RMS traffic signal hardware.”
In a map provided to RMS by the City of Sydney Council detailing the intersection in question, the tree is not marked.
This week the City of Sydney Council placed a notice on the jacaranda tree informing residents of the tree’s removal.
“The tree will be removed and transplanted to its new position in approximately 4-6 weeks,” the sign read.