@ Ross Chippendale (Posted May 1, 2017 at 6:23 am): …

Comment on Making the CBD vibrant, again: Detail, please. by Alex Nelson.

@ Ross Chippendale (Posted May 1, 2017 at 6:23 am): Anyone who’s lived in Alice Springs from before the construction of the full pedestrian Todd Mall would recall that Todd Street (as it used to be) was a highly vibrant location, as it was the main retail area in town.
We didn’t have the Alice Plaza, Yeperenye Shopping Centre, K-mart and (before 1980) the Coles Complex.
Todd Street (in the CBD) featured two supermarkets at either end, with Woolworths in the north (where the cinema complex is today) and Egar Beavers at the Heenan Building corner.
We had the Stuart Arms Hotel on the Parsons Street corner, and Todd Street featured pleasant shopping arcades especially in the northern end (Turner Arcade and Gorey Arcade), and there was the fabulous B-Mart general store in the north end, too. There was so much more.
Todd Street was crammed with traffic and tourists, as long ago as the 1960s when Alice Springs’ population was well below 10,000 – but it was also a time when The Alice was THE pre-eminent tourism destination of the Northern Territory as it was the gaps and gorges of the MacDonnell Ranges that collectively was the main attraction, and Ayers Rock was an adjunct to those attractions.
Todd Street became a victim of its success at a time when there seemed to be no limit to the possibilities of growth and expansion of the town.
The first recommendation to convert Todd Street into a pedestrian mall was made in the HKF consultancy report into the Central Australian tourism industry released in late 1969.
The concept probably would have worked if the recommendations of that report had been adhered to but over the years the failure of proper planning and disciplined consistency for appropriate developments ruined its chances of success.
The expansion of retail developments across the CBD during the early to mid 1980s were based on the assumption that Alice Springs’ phenomenal growth would continue indefinitely into the future.
However, the completion of these major developments coincided with the end of this massive expansionary phase and suddenly the town found itself overdeveloped with a substantial excess of commercial retail and office space.
Something had to give and it did. The new Todd Mall collapsed virtually from the moment of its completion in late 1987 and has never recovered from that time onwards.
Many millions of dollars, both private and public, have been spent trying to jumpstart the Todd Mall ever since, and the current government appears intent on continuing to throw good money after bad in a vain attempt to recover the situation.
This simply won’t work because we’re ignoring the facts that the town’s stagnant population is oversupplied with existing retail facilities and tourist numbers are inadequate to make up the difference.
A very different approach is required but, on the evidence observed so far, it seems far too much to hope for from the current crop of “experts” in bureacracy and business.
I’m left seriously underwhelmed by the NT Government’s current approach to resolving these long-running, deeply entrenched problems of, frankly, our own making.

Alex Nelson Also Commented

Making the CBD vibrant, again: Detail, please.
This announcement, following hard on the heels of the dire budgetary situation for the NT, is highly reminiscent of a quarter century ago.
Here’s a few comparisons: The CLP won the NT election campaign of October 1990, which it was at risk of losing earlier that year after much infighting and instability; the ALP wins the NT election campaign in August 2016 after much infighting and instability in the previous CLP government.
Shortly after its election victory in 1990, the CLP Government announces the formation of an Expenditure Review Committee chaired by Treasurer Barry Coulter in light of the dire budgetary situation in the NT, concurrent with a worsening national economic outlook.
In April 1991, seven months after the elections, the NT Government announced major cutbacks in expenditure including the ending of government programs, and the abolition of 1220 public service positions to be achieved through attrition and a freeze on recruitment.
In March 2017, eight months after the NT election campaign, Treasurer Nicole Manison faces up to a massive decline in GST revenue for the NT by abandoning the Government’s commitment to return the NT budget to surplus by 2018-19, non-renewal of government programs and reduction of the public service through attrition – all within the context of a clearly deteriorating national economic outlook.
Now we have an announcement by the current NT Government intending to rejuvenate the CBDs of Darwin and Alice Springs.
In 1990 the major project underway in Darwin was the State Square development, which began with the construction of a new Supreme Court opened late that year. Hmm, sounds remarkably familiar within the context of 2017 in Alice Springs, doesn’t it? The second stage of the State Square project was the construction of the new Legislative Assembly, completed in 1994.
In Alice Springs we got a commitment for revitalisation of the CBD! During 1992 the Department of Lands and Housing commenced “Planning for the Future Development of the Alice Springs Central Area” under the project title “Alice Springs – Visions for an Oasis Town” which (in my opinion) can be easily re-imagined by the current government’s emphasis to make Alice Springs the “capital of inland Australia” (maybe this description is in consolation for no new Legislative Assembly in the Centre!)
Dale Wakefield’s assurance that “Government will work closely with the Alice Springs community to identify and plan and deliver key projects to revitalise the Alice Springs CBD” is markedly similar to the extensive public consultation and planning the NT Government undertook in late 1992 (I’ve still got my copies of the extensive “response forms” for the key topics of land Use, buildings, conservation, mobility and your choice).
Very little eventuated from all of this activity, although we did get the Tom Brown Roundabout at the entrance to Heavitree Gap which was actually part of the design for a four-lane extension of the Stuart Highway through the Gap announced in 1986.
So here we go again – frankly, I can never overcome my suspicion that George Orwell’s dystopian society described in Nineteen Eighty-Four isn’t simply a caricature of the regime in which we find ourselves.


Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Liquor Commission: Lawyer, social worker represent Alice
It’s easy to be cynical and, yes, there have been many reviews, reports, commissions and the like into alcohol abuse, anti-social behaviour and crime, and associated morbidity over not just years but decades, indeed, long before we got self-government.
I was in my early years in primary school when the Member for Alice Springs, Bernie Kilgariff, initiated two major inquiries in the NT Legislative Council – one for the liquor industry, the other into the NT Police. That was in 1972-3.
The liquor industry inquiry was the first major one of its kind in the NT, and also the first to investigate the impact that alcohol abuse was having on Aboriginal people.
Its findings were appalling, especially for Alice Springs; and one of its many recommendations was the creation of a Liquor Commission to take primary responsibility of this problem from the NT Police. Bernie Kilgariff introduced the Bill for this initiative too but it didn’t come into force for several years.
Given the scale of the problems we continue to face to this day, which has generally increased commensurate with population growth in the NT, one has to question the efficacy of any measures that have been tried and failed over the years.
Where I take heart with the return of the Liquor Commission is the calibre of the new appointments to that commission, certainly those from Alice Springs.
Russell Goldflam and Blair McFarland have the runs on the board, and both have had to endure heavy public criticism at times for their stances.
They have the right qualifications, first-hand knowledge and experience.
They are eminently suited for their new roles; and, if there was such a thing, they would both be worthy recipients already of the Graeme Ross Award for Social Welfare (anyone who’s been here any length of time would know what I mean).
If their new colleagues on the Liquor Commission are of equal merit then I think there is at last some cause for confidence. We at least owe them a chance to make the changes all decent members of our society crave.


Liquor Commission: Lawyer, social worker represent Alice
Two of the worthiest individuals in our town I can think of to be appointed to the new Liquor Commission. I’m delighted by this news.
Both Russell Goldflam and Blair McFarland have been battling away on the intractable issues of alcohol abuse and related harm for many years, and very much deserve the opportunity they’ve been given to make a difference.
It will be very interesting to see how matters progress but I think this news is a very promising start.


Road Transport Hall of Fame is saved
This is great news to start the day. The lingering question in my mind is why the situation was allowed to get to the point where this major attraction was under imminent threat of being significantly reduced, and possibly under threat of closure.
Why endure the aggravation of crisis and emergency before action is taken to achieve a reasonable and satisfactory resolution for all involved?
Surely this outcome could have been negotiated in a more congenial and reasonable manner than apparently was the case.
However, at least this asset for Alice Springs looks set to be saved and for that we must be grateful.


Aboriginal flag on Anzac Hill: the nays have it 
@ Steve Brown (Posted February 16, 2018 at 10:02 am): I’m interested to know, Steve, when it was that TO’s dedicated Anzac Hill for the purpose it now serves as a war memorial? The memorial was first dedicated on Anzac Day, 1934, and as far as I’m aware local Aboriginal people had no involvement in it. Is there a subsequent occasion when this matter was addressed?


Jacinta Price reneges on council undertaking
If Jacinta Price does win preselection to stand as a candidate in the next Federal election campaign, she will not be the first to do so.
On his third attempt, John Reeves was elected in a triple by-election as an Alderman of the Alice Springs Town Council in April 1981.
He was the Labor candidate for the seat of the Northern Territory in the Federal election campaign of February-March, 1983.
Reeves was successful, and his departure from the Council contributed to another multiple by-election in April that year (this was the occasion when Leslie Oldfield was first elected as Mayor after the retirement of George Smith).
Alderman Bob Liddle resigned from the town council in 1987 to run as a candidate for the NT Nationals in the Federal election campaign in July that year. He was unsuccessful.
The NT Government had earlier changed the law so that resignations by council members who stood as candidates for NT and Federal elections were not reinstated as council members even if the candidates were unsuccessful (at present they are).
Alderman Di Shanahan had stood as a Labor candidate in the NT elections of March 1987 and was also unsuccessful. The law being what it was at the time, a double by-election was held for the Alice Springs Town Council. Neither Liddle or Shanahan chose to run again.
The NT Government subsequently reversed this law to the current situation now prevailing.


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