By Bonnie Cassen
The Lake Heights property dominated by a heritage-listed fig tree, and passed in recently at auction, is again under the hammer as residents call for it to remain as a greenspace park.
Nearly 40 protestors turned up to witness the auction, although there were no bidders to be seen.
The majestic fig tree that overshadows the majority of both 6 and 8 Grandview Parade is currently for sale by the Land and Housing Corporation. It has a restricted building area and a 149 Zoning Certificate protecting the fig and prohibiting its removal.
Expert arborists have confirmed the extent of the trees extensive root system and fear any disturbances will compromise the viability of the tree. Peter Maywald, convenor of the Neighbourhood Forum 7 group, believes that any development on the blocks of land will have a detrimental effect on the health of the fig tree.
Melinda Pavey MP, the responsible Minister, indicated this week that the Land and Housing Corporation made several approaches to Wollongong City Council between February 2019 and April 2020 seeking alternatives to listing the blocks for sale, without reaching a meaningful conclusion.
Further, the Land and Housing Corporation have continued to discuss possibilities with Council since the failed auction. We understand that the Land and Housing Corporation expect Council to buy the blocks at market value.
"Just over two months have passed since the issue was first raised with the government," Maywald said. "The Community is of the strong opinion that the most effective way to recognise the heritage value of the fig tree and to ensure its protection is for the blocks of land to remain in public ownership and ideally under the ownership of Wollongong City Council."
Taxpayers have already contributed to the purchase of this land and ideally the Land and Housing Corporation can negotiate an agreement that 'gift's' the blocks to Wollongong City Council.
Maywald said the Neighbourhood Forum 7 group have written to Minister Pavey urging her to inspect the blocks of land for herself so she can understand the community sentiments and concerns for the fig tree.
Trees aren't just a product of nature, but a creator of memories. Whether its a memory or photo, trees have remained in the hearts and minds of many.
Growing up in Adelaide, and whether for the football or cricket, I spent a lot of time on the northern mound of Adelaide oval. A whole string of Moreton Bay Fig trees, canopy the size of a house and trunk that was large in size and peculiar in shape lined the horizon.
My memory was as child I spent hours at the fence, making my own scoreboard for the cricket with plastic beer cups. Test cricket was watching lengthy days, and filled in the time nicely.
When the new Adelaide Oval development was built, they saved those Iconic Trees. They belong next to the old scoreboard. They are the beating heart of a cement structure, and iconic to the City of Adelaide, and have always complimented the parkland between the Oval and the Cathedral.
Thanks for letting me share this story. I know its in a different state, but shows the many reasons why retaining trees, iconic or not, is so important. Thank you also for bringing back memories of time I spent when with my mother.