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.