How council will tackle backlog of overgrown areas
IPSWICH councillors are being “swamped” with complaints from residents from around the city about overgrown parks, reserves and footpaths.
Division 3 councillor Andrew Fechner moved a motion at this month’s Growth, Infrastructure and Waste Committee to address the widespread issue.
After it was passed unanimously, CEO David Farmer has been authorised to take the “immediate action” required to clear the backlog of overgrown council open spaces, including by making budget amendments.
A report will be prepared to include an update on the council’s mowing activities over the summer and how this compares to previous years, the number of complaints received this summer, how many staff and contractors were engaged to mow overgrown spaces this summer and options to enhance the council’s response during high-growth periods.
A council spokesman told the QT earlier this month that 120 council staff and contractors manage more than 1000ha of open space, including sport fields and more than 630 parks and reserves.
Cr Fechner said it was obvious based on the huge level of correspondence from residents that every councillor knew the level of service wasn’t meeting community expectations.
“Over the last several weeks, significant community concerns have been raised about the overgrown condition of many council parks, reserves and footpaths following recent rain,” Cr Fechner said.
“It is appreciated that Ipswich has experienced a relatively wet summer and it is acknowledged that council staff have worked diligently to mow and maintain parks across the city.
“However, it is important that council endeavour to ensure that during high-growth periods, our open spaces are maintained to a high level which meets community expectations in a cost effective manner.”
Redbank Plains resident Karen Moss said she was at her wits’ end with the overgrown grass on surrounding streets and many of her neighbours are in the same boat.
She said both sides of Berrigan St just off busy Cedar Rd were in desperate need of a mow with people walking along the road itself rather than taking pets or children through the long grass.
“Council told me our street (Berrigan St) is on a nine week turnaround,” she said.
“They claim that Cedar Rd is on a three week turnaround.
“If that can get cut every three weeks because it’s a major arterial, why can’t they come up a bit further and cut the other grass that needs to be cut as well while they’re there?
“This is a major road.
“If I left my lawn for nine weeks you wouldn’t see my mailbox.
“The grass was cut in November and we waited until February 2 (for it to be cut again).
“That’s well and truly over nine weeks. It didn’t rain every day.”
Mrs Moss, who has lived in the suburb for four years, said encountered a local resident who was using his own mower and whipper snipper to cut grass on council land.
“He said he had children and he was frightened he would get snakes in his backyard as the grass on the council land outside his fence was so high,” she said.
“You’ve got parents with prams and kids walking along the roads.
“Relatively speaking the council is good with most things but with this they’ve fallen down badly.
“They won’t even come out and see it.”
Division 1 councillor Sheila Ireland said she received a phone call last week from someone who lives at Redbank Plains who told her residents were mowing these themselves.
“It seems that Redbank Plains might be at the end of the line so the grass is fairly long,” she said.
“I certainly would hope we’re going to get Redbank Plains at least whipper snipped fairly soon.
“They’re not taking the argument that we’re doing our best and there’s been rain. They’re not accepting those reasons.”
Division 1 councillor Marnie Doyle, Division 2 councillor Nicole Jonic and Division 4 councillor Kate Kunzelmann said they had also copped plenty of complaints about the state of green spaces in their wards.
“We’ve been swamped with requests from residents,” mayor Teresa Harding said.
“I understand council officers are working very hard and they work on a nine week or a six week schedule.
“That’s clearly not meeting the needs of the residents.
“It happened last summer and it’s happening this summer.”
Cr Harding noted the highest number of complaints were coming from residents in Redbank Plains, Bellbird Park and Collingwood Park, with many worried about snakes and other wildlife lurking in long grass.
“The public in Ipswich are pretty unhappy with it because they’re worried about safety and safety of children,” division 1 councillor Jacob Madsen said.
“The community expects council to do better in area.”
Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.