Thursday, 29 July 2010

Fate of Laman Street figs draws near

From The Herald...


KEEPING or cutting Laman Street's trees will be a matter of cost, but at what price is open to interpretation.

It is a question Newcastle City Council must ponder following advice that the figs are failing and should go.

The Newcastle Herald reported yesterday that 10 options were placed on the drawing board in a briefing to councillors on Tuesday night.

Capital costs ranged from $8000 to $4.9 million for everything from keeping to cutting all 14 figs.

Recurrent costs would be between $1000 and $60,000.

Life expectancy of the present trees was five to 15 years, while new trees might last more than 90 years, community planning co-ordinator Ian Rhodes said.

Cr Sharon Claydon suggested an economic analysis of the trees be considered.

A council spokeswoman said an arboriculture assessment known as the Thyer method put the value of all 14 figs at $68,586.

Cr Michael Osborne said the value was more than dollars.

Environmental factors such as stormwater benefits and habitat for endangered species should be taken into account.

The trees are already a costly consideration.

The art gallery and library report a 35 per cent decrease in visitor numbers since street access was limited because the trees posed a public safety risk.

The gallery had a $9000 decrease in income compared with the same time last year.

The council also spent $70,000 on a two-day community workshop, from which consultants developed a plan for revamping Laman Street and nearby Civic Park.

It envisaged underground building extensions, a two-storey car park, and opening former rail corridors for bikes and pedestrians.

Councillors will consider the plan and tree options next month.

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