It won’t be long before we’ll see some serious work getting under way in the MCG precinct as environment and turf development executive manager Tony Ware rolls out the first stages of a five-year management and improvement plan for Yarra Park.
Preparations are well advanced for the implementation of the club’s Yarra Park master plan and work is expected to start before the end of the year.
The works will embrace a large slice of Melbourne’s unique parkland heritage – all 22 hectares of Yarra Park with its striking rows of towering trees and open spaces surrounding the stadium.
“The park has struggled in recent years, mainly because of drought,” says Tony, “but this project will facilitate a guaranteed supply of water for the entire area by the end of next year.”
First assignment will be to aerate the surface, which has become compacted over the years. Gypsum will be spread to soften the soil and we hope to be ready to lay rolls of kikuyu (several strains are being considered) as the final carpet of grass early in 2012, giving the grass a fairly traffic-free growth and consolidation period before the football fans arrive.
Tony explained that the muddy areas in Yarra Park during the football season were not just due to winter rains. Rather, they were largely the result of not being able to maintain healthy grass cover during the dry summer months.
Central to the entire Yarra Park project is an underground water recycling facility, located 45 metres north of the members’ entrance.
The plant is substantial, 25 metres x 31 metres and between four and eight metres deep. It will be covered by soil and grass except for two entry/exit structures which won’t interrupt line of sight for those approaching the ground.
The term “plant” is most appropriate because the water recycling area only occupies about one-third of the facility, leaving room for a work space, storage areas and an access lift.
It all starts at the tap-in point to a main trunk sewer beneath the railway plantation in Wellington Parade South. At that point the junction with the MCG spur line will be 13m deep.
The pipe then proceeds to the top of Jolimont Terrace, tunnels under the Gate 3 approach apron and down to the treatment plant. Should any contaminant be detected, the flow will be automatically stopped at a monitoring point in the north of the park.
The treated water will either feed into an existing underground tank of 1.5 megalitre capacity for servicing the MCG (the ground uses about 0.8 megalitre on big days) or is piped through the park to a tank near the Punt Road Oval.
Also of primary importance is the management of Yarra Park’s trees (there were 1230 at last count). Many of those magnificent English elms, more than 120 years old, are nearing the end of their lives and will need to be replaced over the next two or three decades. This is an issue facing many land managers throughout the parks and gardens of Melbourne.
“We’d like to keep that type of elm but they’re no longer propagated commercially,” says Tony Ware, “so it’s likely that we’ll harvest seed from them and do the job ourselves.
“We’re committed to preserving the stands of trees along the pathways but won’t be replacing individual trees."
Tony is also hopeful that with irrigation problems fixed, grass can eventually be laid right up to the trees, allowing mulch to be dispensed with. Bollards would ensure that cars are kept away from the drip line of the trees to protect the roots.
The commitment by the MCC ($16 million) and Victorian Government ($6 million) is a significant investment to ensure that Yarra Park remains a valuable community asset.
YARRA PARK CONTACTS
The MCC is now responsible for the day-to-day management and operation of Yarra Park as a community facility.
If you wish to find out more, have a question/comment or wish to report an issue in the park, please use the contact points below:
Phone: (03) 9657 8888 (Rowena Brown)
After Hours: (03) 9657 8881 (Yarra Park officers)
Cleaning and Maintenance: Citywide (03) 9419 4118