Wednesday, September 3, 2008

~ the hanging tree

I’m stricken with a particularly bad chest cold – the sort of thing that inevitably happens after a few weeks of healthy living. Despite the fever, the headache, the burning throat and the hacking cough, I managed to queue up for the all important tickets to the Geelong vs. St Kilda final, and to retrieve my beautiful reincarnated Renault 12 stationcar from dear Don Shaw, the greatest mechanic in the world.

The whole of my yesterday was consumed with an attempt to save a tree. There are some units being built on a block behind us and a particularly wonderful tree is at threat. Usually I miss the opportunity to say my piece on these occasions, but this time I was determined not to let it slide by.

Here’s my submission. I was in a hurry, so some of it is a bit inelegant and repetitive – but I think I get the point across without sounding insane and/or obsessive.

Attention: Senior Statutory Planner, Nick Sakolevas
Re: TPA/36426
Property: 14 Russell Crescent, Mt Waverley, 3140

On behalf of myself, my wife and daughter, I am asking that plans for the proposed development at 14 Russell Crescent be amended to include the majestic pre-existing tree at the rear of the property.

Though not terribly obvious from Russell Crescent, the tree dominates my property at 3 French St, where I have lived for forty-eight years. It is a source of great pleasure and atmosphere for both myself and my family. Looking out from the rear of the house, it covers about a quarter of the sky and is one of the few visible trees remaining which are not in our own backyard.

Though plainly not a native, I contend that it adds enormous environmental and aesthetic value to the surrounding properties. It’s presence allows us to visualise ourselves in a forest [or at least a leafy suburb]. It flavours the ambience of warm Summer afternoons. It draws bird-life from the nearby parklands. Watching the wind buffet its leaves in the breeze is a tonic for the soul. It is healthy, mature and beautiful and should be preserved – even if it was only for these reasons alone.

In recent years, many large, mature trees have been removed in our near vicinity, reducing the natural amenity of the area. There has been a loss of cooling arboreal transpiration and summer shade. The line of great pines that followed the rear of houses on the Foster’s Rd side of Howell Drive, and which loomed magnificently over my property has been removed tree by tree over the years. A large scenic tree opposite me at 4 French St was removed in the last few years and next door, at 5 French St, a number of large mature trees have recently been felled. Plans for 7 French St allow for the extraction of more large native trees.

What was once a very leafy environment is fast becoming dominated by artificial structures, and I ask that this particular tree, so important to the amenity of our house, and all those backing onto the Russell St property, be preserved. Though deciduous and currently leafless, it is a spectacular, inspiring sight in the Spring/Summer months and, hopefully without sounding too overblown, we would deeply mourn its passing.

Monash Council prides itself on its environmental values. Here is one instance where it can act to help preserve the environmental integrity of an area in which the greenery is fast being depleted by development. The block bordered by Foster’s, Stephenson’s and Waverley Rd is undergoing a level of new construction unprecedented in my memory and few trees appear to be being saved - in what until recently has been a very green zone.

Secondary to the case I have stated above, the tree has importance of another nature. Some years ago, the son of the previous owner, Paul Love, committed suicide, under tragic circumstances, hanging himself from the tree at issue. Paul Love was a childhood friend of mine, who lived a short troubled life in a troubled family, and the tree has a degree of memorial value, at least for me. Watching it being felled - by workers entirely ignorant of its history - would be a very sad experience.

To conclude, I have no objection to the construction of units on the site, but I feel very strongly that the tree in question ought to be preserved, not only for my own and my family’s sake, but for all the residents, and future residents who live in its abiding presence, for the general atmosphere and health of the suburb, and by extension the world.

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Mr. Kim Guthrie said...

don't like your chances Sam, they don't give a flying fuck, you should know that. However you did present a compelling case all be it to those of us with a heart and sensitivity; read the minority.



Sam Sejavka said...

Yeah, I'd be blown away if it succeeded, but I'd be kicking myself for months if it came down and I'd done nothing.

Guy on the phone - the tree inspector - raised my hopes, spelling out the new council policies. If it's healthy and isn't threatening anyone, apparently they'll have a hard time getting a permit to cut it down.

But then they'll probably just wear the fine.

lily was here said...

Stick to your guns Sam! They prob need to pass some sort of environmental impact thing and the paperwork might wear them down or maybe they'd even weaken if you explained your reasons to them, the developers that is. you never know. Good luck!

ps mr guthrie your collection of photos is so enjoyable. I laughed out loud at the Hunter Gatherer!

Sam Sejavka said...

Don't worry, I'll stick to guns, if can stay awake ... Mr Guthrie, I like your diary too, by the way.

Anonymous said...

I hope you stopped that tree from being cut down. What a beautiful letter you wrote.