I really do hope this latest exercise in rejuvenating the …

Comment on Northern end of the mall reopens by Alex Nelson.

I really do hope this latest exercise in rejuvenating the original CBD area of town works this time.
It’s interesting to follow the timeline of the history of Todd Mall. The Mall was first proposed in 1969 as one of the recommendations of the landmark HKF Report in Tourism for Central Australia, released by the Australian Tourist Commission. The chairman of the Town Management Board (precursor to the Alice Springs Town Council), Brian Martin, became a staunch supporter of this concept; and later, when he replaced Jock Nelson as Mayor in 1973, he again pushed very hard for the mall’s development.
However, when the town council finally supported the construction of a compromise development in late 1977, ironically, it came about after Mayor George Smith (who, as a businessman in Todd Street, was completely opposed to the mall concept) put a motion to the town council in the expectation of having it defeated!
The semi-mall (or “Todd Small”, as it was dubbed by local wags), with a one-way road for traffic, was officially opened by Governor-General Sir Zelman Cowen, in April 1978. Not long afterwards there was a by-election for two positions for alderman on the town council – one of these was won by Leslie Oldfield.
Attention turned in the early 1980s to converting the Todd semi-mall into a full pedestrian mall. Mayor George Smith remained firmly opposed to this concept; however, he retired from council in early 1983, and by the end of that year had sold his business George Smith Jewellers in Turner Arcade that faced onto Todd Street (now a carpark opposite the cinema) and left Alice Springs.
In the by-election that followed George Smith’s departure, Leslie Oldfield was elected as Mayor in a landslide – and it was she who became the major force in supporting the development of the fully pedestrian Todd Mall. She officiated at its formal opening on October 14, 1987, with Deputy Chief Minister (and local Member for Flynn) Ray Hanrahan by her side. Hanrahan represented the NT Government, from which the millions of dollars had been granted for the construction of Todd Mall.
Within weeks of the Mall’s opening, it had become a no-go zone at night due to marauding gangs of youths committing acts of vandalism and assaulting pedestrians.
Business activity also declined because of the simultaneous opening of the Yeperenye Shopping Centre, effectively diluting a limited retail market across the CBD area (the same situation, incidentally, had occurred with the opening of the Coles Complex in 1980, impacting on the Todd semi-mall – and prompting debate about converting it into a full pedestrian mall!).
From 1990 onwards there have regularly been pushes by local traders to open up Todd Mall (especially the northern end) to traffic again. This was partially achieved with the construction of a cul-de-sac at the top end of the Mall off Wills Terrace in the mid 1990s, together with the development of more parking space replacing the old Shell Todd Service Station on the corner. As I recall, this re-development also cost taxpayers $5 million, too.
Yet it wasn’t enough, so we’ve now ended up with this new re-development. So Alice Springs has now witnessed four significant redevelopments of Todd Street-cum-Mall in four decades, at the cost of several millions of taxpayers’ dollars.
Like I say, I do hope this latest exercise in expenditure of public money on Todd Mall really does work this time.

Alex Nelson Also Commented

Northern end of the mall reopens
In reply to Richard Bentley, it’s exactly five years ago that I spent two months in Riga, the capital city of Latvia. The Old City within the CBD area is a shared traffic / pedestrian zone, where pedestrians have right-of-way in all of the streets against vehicles. Not only that, but all vehicles allowed in this part of the CBD must first obtain special permits. The system appeared to work remarkably well.
Imagine if this idea could be introduced for Parsons and Hartley Street, and for Leichhardt Terrace, too? In fact, it was proposed in the 1970s to make Parsons Street a pedestrian mall up to the intersection of Bath Street, in addition to Todd Mall.
To my mind Latvia made an interesting case study which has a strong relevance to Central Australia – this is because (by European standards) this country is remote and under-populated, and has to compete with significant difficulty against every other country in Europe to attract visitors during a limited seasonal period.
A major contrast with Alice Springs is that Riga has maintained a strong emphasis on the value of its built heritage, with much of its Art Nouveau architecture of comparatively recent origin – yet the Old City of Riga is now registered as a UN World Heritage site.
The nearest equivalent we can hope to achieve in Central Australia now is to get the MacDonnell Ranges listed as a World Heritage site for its environmental value – but that’s increasingly (and rapidly) being compromised because of the encroachment of buffel grass. Nothing of any lasting result for its management is being done.


Northern end of the mall reopens
I need to make a correction to my original post, it seems my memory concerning the construction of the cul-de-sac at the north end of Todd Mall didn’t fail me; however, I’ve conflated two developments of the carpark adjacent to that area.
The cul-de-sac was built in August 1993. At the same time there was a major internal redevelopment of Ford Plaza (now Alice Plaza), which included the demolition of Turner Arcade to make way for a new carpark accessed via the Todd Mall cul-de-sac.
The cul-de-sac cost ratepayers $120,000 but the owners of Ford Plaza spent considerably more on their project. It was also at this time that the Alice Springs Cinema added a third theatre to its complex.
All of this was intended to rejuvenate the north end of Todd Mall.
It’s interesting to note that the construction of the cul-de-sac was delayed as workers struck upon unexpected underground services. History, of course, has repeated itself here exactly 20 years later with the recent development of Todd Street in this vicinity!
In 2002 the Shell Todd Service Station ceased operating; it was subsequently demolished to make way for more car parking space at the north end of Todd Mall.
So we have a timeline here of 1993, 2003, and now 2013, where we have witnessed an ever-increasing encroachment of traffic into the north end of Todd Mall, all of which is intended to “revitalize” this part of the CBD.
When one takes into consideration the entire history of the rise and fall of the Todd Mall, it’s worth remembering that at all stages these developments have been studied, consulted and promoted by many experts and professionals (all paid top dollar for their expertise, no doubt!) – and of course with every subsequent development the public is informed these decisions are made in the best interests of our town.
Now expand this to all other areas where professionals and government officials make decisions to spend our taxpayers’ dollars – always intended for the public’s benefit, of course! – and it becomes very easy to see just why the governance and administration of our town and region never seems to be anything other than a long-running saga of complete stuff-ups!


Northern end of the mall reopens
A quick follow-up to my earlier comment – the cul-de-sac at the top end of Todd Mall was built in the mid-2000s, not 1990s.


Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Nationals in Canberra run Country Liberals media
Perhaps it’s splitting hairs but there were two previous Trades and Labour Councils established in Alice Springs before Warren Snowdon “founded” the Central Australian Regional TLC.
The first was in December 1976 when Miscellaneous Workers Union officials Bill Thomson, from Sydney, and Ray Rushbury (Melbourne) arrived here to establish the Alice Springs Trades and Labour Council, as an adjunct to the TLC in Darwin. This was achieved by the end of the year, and Rushbury was appointed the permanent organiser in late 1977.
In early 1977 the Alice Springs TLC shared office space with the NT ALP in Reg Harris Lane. The new NT Labor leader, Jon Isaacs, was the secretary of the MWU in Darwin – he rose to prominence during 1976 when the North Australian Railway was closed.
The first Alice Springs TLC appeared to have become defunct by the end of the decade. In January 1981 a new organiser, Ray Ciantar from Perth, was appointed to re-activate the Alice Springs TLC but with responsibility extending to Tennant Creek and other regional communities; however, this effort seems to have been even less successful than the first.
The third “founding” of the TLC in Alice Springs was by Warren Snowdon in 1985, this time called the Central Australian TLC.


Wards for Alice council, including one for town camps?
Wards for the Alice Springs Town Council are not a new idea but have never been supported by the NT Government.
There was discussion about wards in the mid-1990s, which was firmly rejected by the government.
It was also raised by candidate Steve Strike during the town council election campaign in May 1988. Like Eli Melky’s current proposal, Strike also suggested five wards, each with two aldermen; however, he didn’t overlook the rural area on that occasion over 30 years ago (the other wards suggested were for Eastside, Gillen, Braitling and the Gap Area).
The town’s municipal boundaries were expanded significantly in early 1988, incorporating the whole rural area for the first time despite widespread opposition from affected residents. The idea of a ward system was the final suggestion to differentiate the rural area from the town, after calls for a separate community government and a shire were rejected by the NT Government.
It’s interesting to note that during the operation of the original Alice Springs Progress Association from 1947 to 1960, the town was divided into wards a couple of times for choosing delegates onto the association. The wards were the (now old) Eastside, town centre (now the CBD), the south side of the town, and the Farm Area along what is now Ragonesi Road. The town’s population grew from about 2000 to over 3000 residents during this period, which was long before there was a town council.
One person who represented the south ward from 1958 onwards was Bernie Kilgariff, kickstarting what was to become an illustrious career in NT politics.
Personally I support the concept of wards; for one thing, it would substantially reduce the cost and inconvenience of town council by-elections.
With regard to increasing the number of councillors from eight to 10; well, it’s just over a decade ago the reverse occurred.
Moreover, the ASTC first started off with eight aldermen (plus the mayor) in 1971 until 1977, when the number was increased to 10.
Here we go again?


Move School of the Air to Anzac High building
@ Watch’n (Posted April 15, 2019 at 4:48 am): Remember when the Drive-in was de-listed? To make way for real estate? Wasn’t that a great development.


Gallery fiasco: school heritage process ‘massively flawed’
It’s obvious the majority of voters in Araluen got it right in the last Territory election campaign.


Killerbots, guided by Pine Gap, same as any other weapon?
Humanity is becoming too clever for its own good.


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