A quick follow-up to my earlier comment – the cul-de-sac …

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

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.

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
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.


Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Another great river tree goes up in flames
@ Karen (Posted August 21, 2019 at 2:04 pm): Hi Karen, I presume you mean the wildfire on the Ross Highway side of Todd River in 2002, as I recall?
That was a very damaging conflagration fuelled by buffel grass that had grown rampant during the wet years of 2000-01.
It came very close to rural properties next to the river.
As it happened, I took photos of that area several times prior to the wildfire so was able to get contrasting before and after shots that demonstrated the severity of that particular blaze.
There were a number of other deliberately lit fires at the time such as along Colonel Rose Drive, and the damage remains clearly visible to this day.


Gunner goofs: No council ‘decisions’ on gallery site
@ Some Guy (Posted August 19, 2019 at 10:43 am): No, I don’t “feel like this golden opportunity of a project to secure the future of Central Australia both in an economic and cultural sense on the world stage is slowly slipping through the fingers” because it was an illusion in the first place.
This isn’t the first occasion that a big project has been held out for us in The Centre offering some kind of economic Nirvana; we were told exactly the same kind of thing with the casino 40 years ago, and again with the development of the Alice Springs Desert Park in the mid 1990s.
Both of these facilities may be attractions but have never come close to fulfilling the visions originally held out to us as major game changers for the Centre’s economy.
With all due respect, I cannot see how a “National Aboriginal Art Gallery” will prove to be any different in the long run.


Another great river tree goes up in flames
@ Bob Taylor (Posted August 14, 2019 at 8:38 am): In this case grass wasn’t the problem, Bob, as even hard up against the trunk of the tree I noticed that none of it was burnt.
What seems to have happened was that a campfire was lit under one of the old exposed support roots of the tree and it was from this source that the flames spread into the trunk.
The roots in turn have been exposed by erosion exacerbated by the lowering of the river bed over a decade ago for flood mitigation.
The lowering of the river bed has also enabled campers to conceal themselves better from view. Unless the river bed is physically patrolled, no-one else knows they are there.


Invasive buffel grass soon part of international focus
The caption for the photo: “Dense infestation buffalo grass in land near the Alice Springs airport” brings back some memories. During my years at school in the 1970s, invariably when I spoke about buffel grass everyone thought I meant buffalo grass, a common variety of garden lawn. [ED– the autocorrect of ‘buffalo’ for ‘buffel’ has now been corrected, thanks Alex.]
As my home was at AZRI and then the new CSIRO field station next door, I was completely familiar with buffel grass during the time when its systematic introduction for dust control (especially for the Alice Springs Airport) and improved pasture was fully underway.
However, this was still the time when buffel grass was not yet dominant in the landscape so most people were unfamiliar with it.


Nuke power way to zero emissions, or a solar shortcut?
@ Ted Egan (Posted August 3, 2019 at 2:50 pm): Hello Ted, if you go to this link https://www.alicespringsnews.com.au/2013/07/11/when-gas-turns-to-hot-air/ and check out the CLP’s full page election advertisement from 1980, it’s just possible to make out that one of the energy options the NT Government was touting was “an experimental wind power generator for the Barkly Tablelands”.
The CLP was also giving consideration for nuclear power at that time, too.
Ah yes, we’re right into recycling!


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