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Displaying items by tag: Norman Griffiths Oval

At the time of finalising an article for our last issue of STEP Matters we were still waiting for the review of environment factors (REF) for council’s project to install synthetic turf at Norman Griffiths Oval in West Pymble. This was to be the major document giving details of the stormwater mitigation works and the design specifications of the field together with the management of identified environmental risks. The details of the design had not been made available previously.

By the time this happened on 27 February there was suddenly a great urgency to get started on the project. The public was given only two weeks to review the 72 page document plus 15 appendices and seek answers to questions. The bulldozers were due to start work on 13 March.

The local stakeholder groups wanting details about the project had been told that they would have four to six weeks to review the REF. So there were many representations made demanding that there should be more time. After all, the mayor had signed the documents giving the go ahead in November 2021 while the council was in caretaker mode before the election. Council had taken 15 months to produce the report so why the rush? Was it something to do with a time limit on the payment of grants of about $1 million promised by the NSW government?

Council decided to hold an Extraordinary General Meeting to discuss the project and provided for a further opportunity for submissions at a public forum on 14 March. Council was not swayed by the arguments that more time had been granted even though we had written evidence of this commitment.

The Extraordinary General Meeting was a farce. They simply presented a resolution that the REF be noted and received. The issues raised at the public forum were treated as unimportant.

One issue was the lack of consultation with NPWS that is required as runoff from the field will end up in Lane Cove National Park via Quarry Creek. NPWS was given the same short period to review the REF. The only commitment by council with NPWS is for continuing consultation in relation to any issues that may emerge.

This is just another example of the disregard council staff have for community concerns. Similar attitudes were experienced with the St Ives Showground Plan of Management where consultation occurred after decisions had already been made.

Once the field is in use and the tonnes of cork infill are in place, the amount of infill migration off the field with regular use or heavy rain will be a watched closely. Water quality is being regularly monitored via the Streamwatch program.

The picture at the top of the page shows Norman Griffiths Oval on 15 April 2023.

Published in STEP Matters 220
Saturday, 04 February 2023 21:25

Norman Griffiths synthetic turf

We are still waiting for the review of environment factors for Ku-ring-gai Council’s project to install synthetic turf at Norman Griffiths Oval in West Pymble. See STEP Matters Issue 217 for more background. It is over a year now since council decided to proceed with the project.

We understand that council is waiting for the Chief Scientist’s report on guidelines for the use of synthetic turf to be released. That, we understand, was completed in August and is still sitting on the planning minister’s desk, probably until after the election. What has he got to hide?

On the subject of synthetic turf, the Natural Turf Alliance has a new website with lots of information about synthetic turf and the alternative of natural grass.

The Natural Turf Alliance is a registered association consisting of community groups, including STEP, committed to preserving and developing natural grass open spaces including sporting fields.

Published in STEP Matters 219

While Ku-ring-gai Council was in caretaker mode prior to the election in December, the mayor Cedric Spencer signed the documents giving the go-ahead for the project to install synthetic turf at Norman Griffiths Oval in West Pymble. This was despite the considerable community opposition and the fact that a Review of Environmental Factors (REF) had not been completed. The opponents were assured that the project would not go ahead if the REF proved that the impacts could not be satisfactorily managed. We have written about the concerns with this project – see STEP Matters 208, November 2020.

The main concerns relate to chemical pollution and cork infill run-off from the field into Quarry Creek that runs into Lane Cove National Park and changes in hydrology that could danger the surrounding Sydney Turpentine Ironbark Forest vegetation.

There is considerable frustration about the lack of information about progress over the past 9 months in the design of the project and the analysis of environmental impacts. It appears that members of the West Pymble Soccer Association have been privy to information provided in meetings with council staff. STEP and the local bushcare volunteers were promised that a community reference group would be set up to inform them about the project as well as the soccer club.

This situation has led to one of the volunteer bushcarers, Bronwen Hanna, to resign as convenor of the Quarry Creek group. Here is her letter.

Re: Resignation as KMC Coordinator: Quarry Creek and Little Yanko Bushcare Sites

It is with great regret that I inform you of my decision to resign as Ku-ring-gai Council’s Bushcare Co-ordinator for Quarry Creek and Little Yanko sites. Given the hours of effort that myself and other volunteers have put into the site, I am disappointed in the way that council staff have treated our attempts to ensure the site continues to flourish.

Firstly, KMC staff have declined all requests to meet and discuss questions around mitigation strategies which would allay concerns about impacts of a synthetic field upstream which have recently raised by the NSW Chief Scientist. What has made this more difficult for me is it appears that West Pymble soccer club and the NSSA – who potentially stand to gain financially from this development through reduced soccer fees – have been furnished with information that should also be made available to our group as affected stakeholders.

It may be that council’s plans will mitigate any impacts that have occurred in other projects. If this is the case, I find it hard to comprehend why staff would not be happy to meet with volunteers with valid concerns. Unfortunately, volunteers have been forced to seek information through GIPA requests – requests that have taken up a great deal of time. We have had to pay for information which I believe should be freely available to residents who are working for the public interest.

Secondly, council appears to have rejected our requests for independent expert monitoring of Quarry Creek before and after the field’s construction (which we asked for in our original submission on the project). This is hard to understand given previous substantial investment through grants funding and rehabilitating the creek through rain gardens, vegetated swales and Lofberg Oval stormwater harvesting, as is the rationale that council cannot afford to undertake water/microplastic monitoring given council is spending $3.6m on the project.

I note also that council have not responded to NSW National Parks concerns about the project, nor abided by its own resolution to keep National Parks informed about the project as it progressed.

Published in STEP Matters 217