October 3 - 9, 2021: Issue 512


Pittwater Parks Much The Poorer After Concrete Paths Have Been Cut Through Their Green Hearts

Trafalgar Park Newport: Erosion, Soil Runoff Post Concrete Path Installation

Newport resident Penny Auburn has forwarded photos to show what is now in place in historic Trafalgar Park. Below these images run those taken by PON staff prior to the works in 2021. The project was delivered as part of the Transport for NSW Active Transport 2020/21 grant funding program. The council webpage on this project states that finishing touches will be added soon. 

The project has proved unpopular with residents as despite requests to not have the park cut in two, pointing out that this is a recreation space and park for residents and families that should not be turned into a transport thoroughfare, council proceeded.  

In doing so the park has been changed from a place where people may stop and be still to a place that has been subsumed into being part of a bike riding network.

Residents had pointed out the path already preferred by those moving through the park. 

the path already being used by residents, at western perimeter of the park, prior to installation 

Others opposed the project on the grounds that collisions between walkers and people on bikes are growing in the area and 'shared paths' do not work, citing some bike riders seem to think they have priority over pedestrians when on 'shared paths'. 

There were also safety concerns about the path creating a 'runway' onto Gladstone street, at the base of the park, due to its steepness, and into any passing vehicles or buses. The footprint for the path follows that long used by parents shepherding children to school and the students themselves, which is a little less steep in gradient by weaving through the once grassy area, but still has a steepness where it meets Gladstone.

There were also multiple requests for material other than concrete to be used. 

Unfortunately rain occurred during the works period resulting in runoff of the soil placed in the path footprint and alongside it and subsequent erosion in areas of the once green area:

''It looks like an absolute dog's breakfast, and is unpleasant to walk across and around. Dirt and mud are already on the path, washed over it by the rain.'' Penny stated this week

No sediment barriers were installed throughout the works, however sediment barriers, as can be glimpsed in the above images, were used to keep residents out of the works area during the laying of the path. Much of the area alongside and downhill from the path has been damaged though, as a result of this work.

Trafalgar Park was dedicated as a commons area, placed under the stewardship of residents, on December 22nd 1890. When Warringah Shire Council was formed they applied to be in charge of all public reserves. Visit: Trafalgar Square, Newport: A 'Commons' Park Dedicated By Private Landholders - The Green Heart Of This Community, Issue 508.

Similar erosion and exposure of the earth is now a part of historic Catalpa Reserve in Avalon. This too formalised the thin foot traffic path already created through being much used by residents. In that instance the reasoning for placing a concrete path through that previously all green grass and trees oasis was to provide easier access for prams and those in wheelchairs, a fine idea in keeping with community aspirations for all community members. However, there is a set of concrete stairs at one end of this new path which would not make this suitable for wheelchairs or prams and make that 'reason' given a falsehood.

Photos taken earlier in 2021 of that installation show the erosion that has now occurred there. In this instance, as well, requests or suggestions a material other than concrete be used were similarly ignored.

During an era when communities need to 'cool down' the heating up properties of using any form of concrete in parks or reserves are out of step with looking after these parks in a responsible manner, or ensuring the wildlife, the other 'voiceless' residents of our area that are now dependant on those who will continue to speak up for them, are safe from habitat deterioration. 

The hard paths program is being cited as 'the concreting of Pittwater by Pittwater-hating Warringah' and perpetuates an anti-forcibly-imposed-Council sentiment in the Pittwater community. Messages written on NBC signage at other works reiterate the message 'NO!! Not more concrete!!!, Sux':

Catalpa Reserve - post concrete path Installation:

the concrete stairs that will provide 'easier access' for people in wheelchairs or those pushing prams

the erosion on either side of this installed concrete path

Penny, who lives overlooking the park and watched the works, said this week;

''They outsourced to two different companies.

The first company dug the path and poured the concrete without any drains to manage water flow on the steep hill. They refilled the ditches left on either side of the path with loose dirt that I sank into when I walked across the path. 

Clearly Council didn't supervise after they saw the loose dirt laid.

There was a rainstorm ... half the dirt washed down the hill. The concrete company (?) put more loose dirt on. There was another rainstorm and it washed away again. On the uphill edge of the path a sludgy pool of mud formed because there was no drainage. Dogs and kids got into the sludge and had a field day, leaving a hole.

No attempt was made to even the ground out before the second contractors arrived to do the turf several days later. Turf guys couldn't have cared less about holes in the soil or the camber of the ground and just plonked the turf on the extremely uneven ground. I watched them do the job ... 

As the turf takes hold and sinks into the various dips and rises caused by erosion  on both sides of the path, a number of ankle breakers will appear over time. 
I have no idea whether Council has ordered more turf to fill the gaps. You can see from the pictures there's no way the job is finished, and yet turf was laid at least a couple of days ago. 

Dirt and mud are already on the path, washed over it by the rain.'' Penny said.

During an era where it has become abundantly clear that we need to cool everything down, the continued roll out of concrete where it is not wanted, and which will exacerbate urban heat, is proving very unpopular with residents.

Catalpa Reserve - post path installation:

the concrete stairs that will provide easier access for people in wheelchairs or those pushing prams

view east towards Toongarrie Reserve and Avalon Beach end

runoff of soil into area being regenerated

This new concrete path was installed by the Northern Beaches Council after feedback ['have your say' September 11 to October 11 2020] that on the whole, rejected the use of this material in this space and pointed out that council's reason for doing so, 'to allow greater accessibility for prams and wheelchairs' does not reconcile with the 15 steps that connect to the Appian Way and that this path would exacerbate water run off and the deterioration of the surfaces alongside it. 

Others responded that concrete is needed to fix the crumbling footpaths within Avalon retail centre where elders are regularly being tripped up by broken cement first and they would prefer green spaces to be left as they are. Council went ahead with the concrete ('eco-concrete') path and installed sandstone blocks at the entrance as well.

Trafalgar Park - After:

The mud puddle on the upside of the curve in the path - the erosion extends beyond the path, as can be seen from this photo.

How it was before turf was put down. I saw them laying the turf. No spades, rakes or soil smoothing equipment were used.

Typical of the soil where turf was laid after the rain.

Shortfall in turf required to restore the area. Also visible signs of further runoff.

Mud on the path left there after rain ... not the turf company's responsibility. Further runoff of the soil used can be seen on other side.

Turf laying 'completed'.

This section is going to heat up during hot months.

Trafalgar park - Before: Photos taken April 24, 2021