Car park or culture centre: new funding bid

p22101-car-park-1By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

The Town Council will re-submit an application for Federal funding for a “meeting place” and a multi-storey car park in Hartley Street and Gregory Terrace although Mayor Damien Ryan concedes there is no detailed knowledge about who needs a car park.

 

Asked how many parking spaces are being used, for example, by people driving to work who could easily be walking, riding a pushbike or using public transport, Mayor Ryan said: “I don’t have these numbers.”

 

He says the shortage of car parking would get worse when the Melanka site becomes unavailable for impromptu parking as the $100m development gets under way.

 

p22102-Damien-RyanWhen will that be, we asked Mayor Ryan (at left): “I don’t have an answer to that at the moment. Like you I’m waiting to see.”

 

(The Alice Springs News Online, quoting a spokesman for the Ainsworth family group, reported on September 12 that a sales office would open on the site before the end of the year. There is no sign of a sales office and the spokesman isn’t returning our calls.)

 

Meanwhile Councillor Jade Kudrenko says she will be giving thought to how the application could be modified “so we’re not flogging a dead horse”.

 

She says she asked at Monday’s meeting for a guarantee that there would be opportunities for a revision of the plans, and she had been given that assurance by CEO Rex Mooney.

 

Cr Kudrenko says a partnership with the Uniting Church for the development of the area may be well worth another look.

 

p22102-Jade-KudrenkoSays Cr Kudrenko (at right): “The original project incorporated several elements, not just a car park, but also residences and offices, a big open green space, a cultural centre and a town hall.”

 

Mayor Ryan provided no firm data supporting the need for the 300-plus car parking spaces planned in a three-story building in the middle of town.

 

He does not support with facts his general assertions: “The town has a huge need for car parking in the CBD.

 

“That’s an issue that’s been talked about for numerous years” and is “very obvious, especially when we look at the number of people who have difficulties.

 

“Bicycle numbers have increased this year but nowhere near to remove” the issue of need for more car parking.

 

“In November there were 200 parking tickets handed out,” says Mayor Ryan.

 

The Alice Springs News Online put to Mayor Ryan: What is Alice Springs doing at a time when the entire world is trying to cut back on fossil fuel consumption? Is the council encouraging more people to use their cars?

 

“Very good point [but] in the winter there are more cyclists than in the summer.

 

“We are very keen to develop the meeting space in the centre of town. That again will remove more car parks, next to the post office.

 

“If we’re going to move those cars we need to move them to somewhere. That’s why we applied for funding for a car park in the CBD.”

 

NEWS: That will be done without knowing exactly who would be using those car parks. No survey has been done.

 

MAYOR: The car numbers in the town are very large. There are requests from the community regularly around car parking. Whenever there has been a new building we have not been supported by the consent authority in the requirements for numbers of car parks. We now need to do something about that.

 

Mayor Ryan was not prepared to discuss in detail the process within Council that led to the application for Regional Development Australia (RDA) Stronger Futures funds.

 

He did not provide professional research information about home occupation (despite referring to it twice in our interview); nor about the closing of businesses in Todd Mall; nor about the increase of online shopping.

 

Cr Kudrenko says there has not been “much public consultation” about the currently proposed application, but the council had invested money and effort into the new plans, and may now feel obligated to go ahead with them.

 

However, she says the issues should be seen in their broader context “of congestion in the CBD, lots of half raised parking and traffic islands” and other impediments to traffic flow.

 

“It is not an open and inviting space,” she says.

 

The Super Tuesday bicycle counts, “year on year have shown Alice Springs has one of the highest per-capita bike use in in the nation”.

 

p22101-car-park-2This information, she says, should be complemented with a professional survey by qualified staff – unlike the recent parks survey.

 

“We need to learn to engage with the community,” she says.

 

There is a clear need for car parks for some members of the community, such as the disabled and mothers with young children.

 

Mayor Ryan says the proposed car park site would not be suitable for the long-discussed national indigenous cultural museum.

 

“It would be very inappropriate without any car parking … anywhere for buses to put down people. I think we need to find a different spot” for the cultural museum.

 

“A meeting place would be far more suitable for the community.

 

“A museum would be a terrific asset for Alice Springs but there are discussions by other people and lots of other places. It wouldn’t be there.”

 

NEWS: Where should it be, do you think?

 

MAYOR: Wherever we can find the correct space. The site of the car park is only one-third of the space required for this cultural centre.

 

NEWS: How many tourists who would visit the cultural centre come to Alice Springs by car?

 

MAYOR: I think that would be a good question for tourism.

 

NEWS: Do you consult with Tourism Central Australia about projects of this kind?

 

MAYOR: We work with a lot of bodies across town. If you are talking about the application to Stronger Futures, yes.”

 

NEWS: What did they say?

 

MAYOR: We haven’t had anybody who is negative to the concept about what we are trying to create in the centre of town.

 

NEWS: Has there been a change in the relationship between Tourism Central Australia (TCA) and the council?

 

MAYOR: They have a new constitution and charter [since last month].

 

NEWS: Do you find it unfortunate that the link that existed between TCA and the Council is less strong now? For example, the Council has no longer a seat on the TCA board.

 

MAYOR: I wasn’t supportive on the changes in the constitution. I sat on that board for some years as a council representative but that particular way is no longer available.

 

Cr Kudrenko says the town still doesn’t have a good handle on the indigenous cultural centre concept: “The idea needs to be grounded in what the community can offer as well as national expectations.”

 

She says the successful RDA applications around the nation had included many multi-purpose sporting facilities projects.

 

The council spends $1.7m a year on sports facilities, she says, a “conservative” figure given extensive in-kind support on top of that.

 

“There are expectations of having national standard facilities in Alice Springs,” she says.

 

Without a grant there would need to be rate increases: “We need to consolidate facilities.”

 

 

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12 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Bob Durnan
    Posted January 14, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    Good to see that the proliferation of over-engineered cement traffic management features in the CBD is getting some attention. Has somebody not got enough to do?
    Isn’t it about time this excess was given some critical scrutiny by an independent expert?

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  2. Joel Olzomer
    Posted January 14, 2016 at 11:09 am

    @ Pagan: A very valid observation regarding the “traffic controls” the Alice Springs Town Council has installed. It seems ASTC has rather lost the plot on this front and decided that traffic management (inconveniently placed islands) are in fact some type of last resort at street-scaping and beautification.
    The island at the Coles Railway Tce entrance is a particularly useless and frustrating piece of infrastructure and wasted rates payers money.

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  3. Pagan
    Posted January 14, 2016 at 9:24 am

    Yes, car parking can be a problem but why has so much parking been taken up by these concrete islands around town that motorist have to weave around. Yes, they slow the traffic and even slow the traffic to a standstill, blocking roundabouts and making it hard for people to park.
    Outside the post office is a typical example, where you used to be able drive in, pick up your mail or post it, and drive off.
    As for the strip of concrete outside the Yeperanye shopping centre, a dangerous piece of work, can not stand on, can not step over, just waiting for someone to fall under a car.

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  4. Not Sure
    Posted December 20, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    600 new car spaces at the new court house?
    That block is not exactly huge for both a court house and a 600 spaced car park. Yes I see there is an underground component, but where are all those spaces going? All in an multi story underground car park?

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  5. Hal Duell
    Posted December 20, 2015 at 9:47 am

    Is it true that the new courthouse will have parking for 600? And if so, how much of that will be public?
    And how many parking spaces are planned in the proposed new car park?
    Cr Kudrenko might be on the money when she suggests another look at a partnership with the Uniting Church for the development of the area.
    Perhaps fully remove the cars between the Hartley Street school and the opposite buildings and lawns, and do something else there instead.

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  6. Fred the Philistine
    Posted December 20, 2015 at 8:50 am

    We do need another carpark in the town, but not such an elaborate one.
    We also need to look at questioning and dismissing the current council members like in Litchfield, as there are too many who have financial interests in the town and are not making decisions in the best interest for the town.
    Anyway, isn’t the new court house going to have parking for 600 vehicles?

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  7. Graham Tjilpy Buckley
    Posted December 19, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    Please Mayor Damien, tell me that the Town Council is joking about erecting a three tiered car park in town.
    Where does the credibility of the Town Council stand on this proposal by quoting anecdotal evidence to support their case?
    I would contend that they are on very wonky legs indeed. Michael Dean has hit the bullseye in one when he suggests the proposal sounds like an episode of Yes, Minister.
    I would add that it would also do credit to a typical madhouse skit from Monty Python! I thoroughly agree with Michael also when he says building car parks is a bit of an old world approach anyway.

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  8. Fred the Philistine
    Posted December 19, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    If people can ride a bike or walk or catch a bus, why does the council have such a large carpark, and does the Mayor walk to work?

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  9. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted December 18, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    @ Leigh Childs: Sarcasm and humour are two tools to keep us sane.
    I would like to known if our town planners / developers are chess players?
    Do they plan their moves predicting the reactions of the locals, the tourists and the business’ needs, ready to counteract?

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  10. Leigh Childs
    Posted December 17, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    … and cars are more important than heritage / functional places like Turner House.
    Remember that one? We got a gross multi storey car park, without even a nod to Alice Springs history.
    Yay … bring on the developers. And yes, I’m being very sarcastic.

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  11. Maya
    Posted December 17, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    Once more, this indicates that what Alice Springs needs is a broad Town Planning – what sort of town do we want to be?
    A long term development, with all the special areas envisaged and then we can talk car-parks to complement these areas and the people to use them.

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  12. Michael Dean
    Posted December 17, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    Some of this sounds like an episode of “Yes Minister”. We take away the car parks next to the post office which then justifies building new ones?
    I am for development if there is a clear, defined, substantiated need, but this seems a bit self-serving.
    Building car parks is a bit of an old world approach anyway, must be a better way to deal with this … even if there is a need. But the need seems dubious at best.

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