by Caitlan Charles
MEMORIES of playing in camphor laurel trees as children, and residents taking their own children and grandchildren to the park, is driving the community backlash against the felling of the iconic flora in McLachlan Park, says Maclean man Ian Saunders.
"I've only been here for about 14 years so I don't have an emotional attachment to the trees but a lot of people have and they're really distressed about it,” Mr Saunders said.
"There was no reason to move the trees at all they're a signature for this town.”
Mr Saunders said he believed the park would be unusable for nine months of the year because the large camphor laurels provided shade for the community.
He proposed the trees should have been moved one at a time, giving time for the new trees which will replace them to mature.
"When they'd grown up and made the place look nice, they could have removed the other trees and then done the same thing,” he said.
The Maclean resident said Clarence Valley Council had not delivered on what they promised.
"It's all unfinished, none of the lighting that was promised is there, it's just a shambles and it could've been done so much better,” he said.
Mr Saunders is not the only community member up in arms over the council's decision to remove the trees.
On the Clarence Valley Rate Payers, Residents and Business Owners Facebook page the community has been discussing the tree removals with great anger.
Dave Schwarz said councillors were destroying Maclean's historical landmarks.
"Guess what, did you know they're noxious weeds, OMG, bloody big beautiful weeds must be destroyed, but hey, only when our brain dead masters decide to selectively cull four in a million throughout the shire,” he said.
Nicki Holmes said: "Disgusted!! When are they going to target all those near our schools, church and showground? Chatsworth Island? Aesthetically, environmentally blind barbarians!”
With a lot of animosity coming from the community, council staff have reportedly been receiving abuse from community members while on the site.
However Clarence Valley Council have said they have received no complaints from staff members.
A spokesman for council said the high-profile project had been a hot topic of community discussion and acknowledged not everyone was happy about it.
He added construction work started on the central section of McLachlan Park this week.
"The works are the first portion of the larger Maclean Riverside Precinct Plan being funded by the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development,” he said.
"Works include a viewing platform, picnic shelter, seating and tables, access ramps, a riverside walk that will link the two ends of the park, terrace seating walls, lighting, shade tree and perennial planting.
"The works will be largely completed by council staff being supplemented by local contractors and businesses.”