Who’s going to untangle the town’s many issues?

p22104-Mbantua-dancers-1PHOTOS: The Mbantua Festival, its financial fiasco notwithstanding, did much to inspire the drive for an indigenous cultural centre in Alice Springs.

 

COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA

 

OMG, things have become awfully complicated.

 

The dominoes started to topple when Canberra said “no” to putting public money into yet another car park in Alice Springs.

 

That lead to the question, do we really need one? Is it just a make-work scheme for builders, just a step up from CDEP workers painting rocks on median strips?

 

Has there been a methodical study of parking needs and trends? How many workers, who could walk there in 10 or 15 minutes, are needlessly occupying spaces?

 

No, there hasn’t been such a study.

 

Then the questions just come tumbling:

 

Now that the Mall is half dead, surely we don’t need as many car parks as we did when it was alive and buzzing?

 

And what about working from home – a trend that will get a major shot in the arm when the NBN rolls out next year? Much fewer people will need office space in the town centre – but where is the credible survey that puts numbers on this?

 

And what about cycling to work: Adelaide, for example, is embarking on a revolution towards using pushies, including sharing footpaths.

 

The next domino falls: How come the post office is now twice as big and retail shops are closing? That’s right, online shopping. And it involves a 10 minute stop outside or else home delivery. Not something a multi-storey car park need cater for.

 

And just as we thought it was safe to go back again to the CBD, the Indigenous Cultural Centre reared its head: Surely, we all agree we need one of these? And what better place than the council-owned Hartley Street car park?

 

OMG, no. The traditional owners are squabbling about who should have the main say about what many are hoping would be a place of harmony and honour for their ancient traditions.

 

Then the Town Council wants to have a “meeting place” as well. Judging by the drawing supporting its car park application, it looks much like two places we already have. One is on the lawns between the hospital and the Salvos, in Stuart Terrace, scene for card games, the occasional brawl, shouting, drunks sleeping it off on the grass, and an ocean of rubbish until Council workers come to clean it up.

 

The other is the Mall where incessant humbugging for money and cigarettes seems to be beyond the control of authorities, and so is using the place as a toilet.

p22104-Mbantua-dancers-2

And then there is the big one, the unresolved proposal by the Uniting Church, in partnership with the council, for a joint development of accommodation, some trade space and cafes or eateries to inject some life into the heart of the town – something the multi level car park on its own is hardly going to accomplish.

 

Similar to the council’s “meeting place” the Uniting Church proposal has a  “town square concept” and a multi level car park, but with the ground floor dedicated to pedestrians.

 

The other difference is they have built in the presence of people – residents who would develop an “ownership” of their surrounds – the essential ingredient to keep the area lively and safe.

 

It seems clear the council has turned its back on this partnership. This seems to overlook that since the construction of the original mall more than 28 years ago the church has licensed the council to allow passage to the general public between the Mall and Yeperenye shopping centre, and to use the land around the church and splendid Adelaide House, one of the last historic buildings of note in the town centre.

 

That land must be worth around $3m to $4m. If the church puts up a fence and proceeds to doing its own thing, gone would be the east-west passage, and yet another opportunity for turning the town around with a clever and collaborative initiative.

 

 

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4 Comments (starting with the most recent)

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  1. Evelyne Roullet
    Posted December 25, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    “TOGETHER WE CAN”

    Together we can start a war
    Filled with so much greed,
    It covers our eyes so we can
    No longer see what we were
    Aiming for to begin with.
    We could tear people’s worlds
    Apart, because it will get us
    What we want most.

    Together we can hate on
    One race, make them feel
    Inferior because of their skin,
    Or the way they look, so
    We feel like kings in a land
    Full of peasants.
    Make them feel like nothing,
    And never let them forget it.

    Together we can build a bomb
    That’s considered so powerful,
    Yet all it does is destroy:
    Destroys the bond between families,
    Once so close.
    Destroys the faces of people,
    Taking their identity as well.
    Destroys a little girl’s faith,
    Makes her wonder, “Why
    Me?”

    Together we can build a wall
    Around us, shut out those who are
    Unlike,
    Hate on those who are
    Unusual.
    Pick on those who are
    Unique.

    Together we do so much bad,
    We forget we could do more good …

    Together we could stop a war,
    End the tears that fall from the
    Children who see their
    Streets turned into battlefields
    Everyday of their childhood;
    A constant fight nobody
    Can win at.

    Together we could learn acceptance,
    Take one another for who they are,
    And realize they must have been put
    Here for a reason if they are living.
    Understand that if God is unconditional
    In love, surely he wouldn’t exclude
    A person for how they look, how they
    Act, who they are.

    Together we could spread hope,
    Not fear.
    End making bombs and instead
    Make food for those who have none.
    Build homes for those who lost theirs.
    Find a cure for those who need it,
    And show love to those who
    Never had it.

    Together we could break down that
    Wall that hasn’t been keeping others out,
    But holding us in.
    We could look past the differences
    That separate us, and concentrate
    On the qualities that bring us together.
    We could learn from the past
    And create a better future.

    We could forget all the times we hurt
    One another, because nobody is perfect.
    We can forgive others for their mistakes,
    And ourselves for the ones we made too.
    Together we could stand as one,
    Stronger than anyone could ever
    Wish to be standing alone.
    Together …
    We can.

    © Copyright 2015 Brittany Moya. All rights reserved.

    Merry Christmas to all and best wishes for 2016

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  2. Eli Melky
    Posted December 25, 2015 at 7:41 am

    Dear Ed: To the question and title of this article “who is going to untangle the Towns many issues?”
    Answer: Together we all can!
    Merry Christmas.

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  3. Erwin Chlanda
    Posted December 24, 2015 at 7:12 am

    @ New Observer: I point you to recent readers’ comments published here, to our earlier extensive coverage of tensions within Lhere Artepe about traditional responsibilities, as well as to frequent reporting of conflict between various Aboriginal organisations and interests.
    Also, if you had the courage of your apparent convictions to disclose your name, you would likely be included in the conversation about the proposed cultural centre.
    Erwin Chlanda, Editor.

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  4. New Observer
    Posted December 23, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    Editor, please provide evidence of the traditional owners who are squabbling about who is to have the main say on the idea of a cultural centre.

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