Axe hangs over 19 poplars outside MacKillop College

GOING, GOING: A report to Bathurst Regional Council recommends removing an avenue of 19 poplar trees outside MacKillop College.
GOING, GOING: A report to Bathurst Regional Council recommends removing an avenue of 19 poplar trees outside MacKillop College.

AN avenue of 19 poplar trees at the front of MacKillop College will be removed under a recommendation from Bathurst Regional Council senior staff.

One of the last jobs of the current batch of councillors will be to decide the fate of the trees when they meet on Wednesday night for the last time ahead of the September 9 local government election.

A report to council by engineering services director Darren Sturgiss says the trees that line Gormans Hill Road are about 50 years old and may have been planted by the school as part of a beautification program.

But he says they are now in a poor condition and are damaging roads and footpaths, and should be removed to make way for an “appropriate replacement”.

“Council has received a number of complaints over recent years from MacKillop College in relation to the street trees located adjacent to the school,” the report states.

“Specifically the concerns raised relate to the safety of the trees, their general health and the damage that the root systems are causing to the kerb and guttering, drainage, road surface, sewer systems and general building cracking.”

The fate of the poplars will be decided just a week after a group of Kelso residents went public with their fight to save a stand of 60-year-old pine trees earmarked for removal to allow for a massive residential development.

But the circumstances in this case are much different and it remains to be seen if there will be a public push to save the poplars.

“Upon inspection by council’s horticultural staff, it was assessed that these trees are in poor condition and their surface root systems have created significant damage to the surrounding street and adjacent school property, which will continue to progress and worsen into the future,” the report to council states.

“Due to their poor health, the concerns for the safety of pedestrians and general road users, and the visible and extensive damage that is being caused to surrounding infrastructure, it is believed necessary that the poplar trees be removed within the near future, as soon as resources permit.”

Mr Sturgiss estimates it will cost around $30,000 to remove the trees and plant their replacements.

That figure does not include traffic control requirements along Gormans Hill Road as the tree removal is carried out.

The report recommends the work be done during a school holiday period to limit the inconvenience.

“Further investigation will need to be undertaken to determine the cost for kerb and gutter and road repairs that will be required,” the report states.

“The costs for the removal and replanting of the trees and the works required to repair the road will be developed and submitted to the 2018/19 management plan deliberations for council’s consideration.