Making the cut: Tumut trees in need of repairs, replacement

Local businesswoman Hansie Armour said she’s concerned about the long-term maintenance of main street trees.

Work to remove and replace some trees along Tumut’s main street is underway, since some of the trees “haven’t grown very well and others have grown very well,” according to Snowy Valleys CEO Matthew Hyde, but are disrupting the footpath and pushing pavers out of alignment.

The tree repairs are part of an overall $1.76m upgrade to Tumut’s CBD, spent out of the remaining amalgamation money.

Local businesswoman Hansie Armour, also a member of the Tumut Chamber of Commerce, said she loved trees, but the ones lining Wynyard St have caused a lot of problems.

“Trees require maintenance,” she said, pointing to pavers and concrete kerbs which have been pushed out of place by thick roots. “Our CBD Plane trees have not received that benefit.”

Mrs Armour insists that the trees which were most recently put in are not the correct species.

“The new trees turned out to be rootstock, not the Shademaster Gleditsia as planned by the designer,” she said, remembering when she was Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce close to 20 years ago, when the trees were first selected.

Mrs Armour also believes that the root barriers which were supposed to be installed were never put into place and the roots are now causing damage to nearby buildings, including those in her “Connection” centre.

“Recently the roots of the beautiful Plane tree in front of the National Australia Bank managed to break the main water line serving the ‘Connection’ and caused major flooding and damage to some tenants,” said Mrs Armour, referencing a flood which impacted the optometrist’s offices in the Connection late last year.

Snowy Valleys Council has acknowledged some concerns with the trees and will be repairing them over the next 16 weeks, along with repairing kerbs and replacing the pavers along Wynyard St from Capper to Fitzroy. SVC CEO Matthew Hyde said significant thought went into selecting a strong paver for the CBD facelift, but Mrs Amour said it doesn’t matter how strong the paver will be, there needs to be a long-term budget for streetscape maintenance.

“Unless there is a sizeable budget for ongoing maintenance – say at least second daily wet sweeping and daily when the Plane trees pop their pods, cleaning of furniture, and most importantly a good root barrier that is easily accessible so the roots can be pruned every five or so years – I genuinely worry that spending money on new pavers could be a waste,” she said.

Mr Hyde said Council budgets for future maintenance and repairs.

“We depreciate [the street asset] and the depreciation cost covers the maintenance work that needs to be done into the future,” he said.

“If [the streetscape] had an increase in operating costs in the future, that would be reflected in the budget, but typically when you do a street upgrade, your maintenance costs reduce up front, because your asset’s not old and you’re not continually doing repairs.”

Council’s project specifications call for new shrubs, perennials and groundcover, with the trees to be “Ulmus parvifolia ‘Yarralumla’ or species to Council selection.”