Russell Road fig trees to go

The fig trees along Russell Road.
The fig trees along Russell Road.

Cr Brett Treby moved an alternative recommendation at last week’s council meeting to have the 13 trees, planted by a former landowner, removed after the original proposal lapsed.

‘This alternative recommendation doesn’t bring me any joy,’ he said.

‘Having had a good, hard, long look at the issue, and knowing the circumstances, we need to consider a number of facts.’

Cr Treby said large branches and foliage had a history of causing concern to nearby residents.

He said the trees were not native to the area or part of the City’s tree planting policy.

‘We have a number of trees under our control that are dropping leaves and branches in a public area, with potential to cause damage to roadways,’ he said.

‘I don’t like the idea of chopping down trees ” but there is a risk we simply can’t ignore.’

The original recommendation was to retain the trees, carry out inspections every six months and implement a management strategy.

‘From a cost perspective, the option of maintaining the trees would cost us in the order of $6500 per annum against the cost of removal you get payback in about seven or eight years,’ Cr Treby said.

Before the meeting, Russell Road resident Iris Syred said in a deputation the City had a ‘duty of care’ to those using the footpath.

‘I was putting out the bin when I slipped on a fig and fell,’ she said. ‘I bruised my hips and had to have an X-ray and was confined to bed.’

Ms Syred, who organised a 35-signature petition, said the trees produced fruit twice a year that blocked drains and caused the road to flood.

Cr Sabine Winton said she ‘reluctantly’ opposed the alternative recommendation.

‘Our tree policy hasn’t been reviewed since 2008,’ she said. ‘I think it’s time we review our tree policy so that we have clear guidelines as to what we should be doing.’

Councillors Domenic Zappa, Dianne Guise, Frank Cvitan, Bob Smithson, Hugh Nguyen and Dot Newton spoke in support of the alternative recommendation.

The cost to remove the trees and plant replacement native species is estimated at $52,000.