The fate of the four mature Evergreen Ash trees in Boonah’s main street will be decided on Monday at the Scenic Rim Regional Council meeting.
And if Councillors agree with the Council officer’s review of the decision to destroy the trees, then all four will face the chainsaw.
While the original John Mongard design of the redevelopment of the town centre did not include the destruction of the trees, a redesign carried out in-house by Council in 2016 indicated a relocation of some of the trees.
More recently, with the decision to change the location of one of the pedestrian crossings, to increase the disabled carparking space from angle to parallel parking and other engineering changes, Council engaged a consultant arborist.
Included in the report from the arborist, was the declaration that the Evergreen Ash trees were a major invasive species due to the production of winged seeds. The report also noted that seedlings had been found in the gardens beneath the trees. Four option papers included in the agenda for Council’s meeting on Monday outline the impact, according to the engineers, of the retention of each tree.
All note the ‘invasive species’ label while recording that the Evergreen Ash does not appear on any government biosecurity list. Each option also included the cost of $100,000 for a pollutant (seed) trap within the stormwater drainage system plus an annual cost of $10,000 to service the system.
What wasn’t made apparent was whether this extra treatment was in response to known infestations of the seeds downstream of the stormwater system in the 27 years the trees have been in place.
Two options were reviewed in regard to the impact of retaining the two trees on the southern side of the pedestrian crossings.
One option involved the relocation of the crossing 27 metres further up the street with the resultant loss of four carparking spaces and the need to purchase the privately owned laneway known as Maynard’s Lane at an anticipated cost of $80,000 to $120,000.
No explanation was given on why the crossing had to be in that particular location, nor why the laneway would need to be purchased nor was a response given on the suggestion of reclaiming the two unused taxi bays.
The second option for these two trees notes the need to relocate the power pole outside the Post Office for safety reasons if the pedestrian crossing is to remain in place.
This option includes the cost of around $35,000 to move the power pole and the statement that the work of relocation could not commence until April 2021 … “which was outside the funding window” of the Federal and State government grants which are helping fund the project.
The second two options deal with the two Evergreen Ash trees on the northern side of the pedestrian crossings.
The first of these considers the moving of the disability car space to in front of the Council forecourt. The drawback, according to the option paper is the loss of four carparking spaces but does not note the fate of the existing disabled carpark.
The second option involves the disabled carpark remaining an angled park but taking in an extra parking bay, which would result in the overall loss of one carpark in the street.
The Council officer concludes at the end of the review of the options that:
“The delivery of Stage Two of the Boonah Town Centre Revitalisation project involves the replacement of four Himalayan Ash trees which are exotic invasive species with more suitable native trees in more appropriate locations along High Street.
“This aspect of the project ensures Council meets its biosecurity obligations by selecting a treatment that eliminates the risk.
“Alternative options for retention of these trees are presented in response to community concerns to illustrate the respective trade-offs regarding residual risk ratings, different design outcomes, total project costs and ongoing operational costs.
“Although a petition has been received from the community outlining concern over this aspect of the project during the works, the current scope of the project including the removal of four trees and replacement of significant size is considered the most appropriate.”
Council is expected to make a decision during the early stages of the meeting on Monday.