Solar lights may go

 

By KIERAN FINNANE

Last updated 9.17am.

 

The much derided solar powered street lights in Hartley Street may go.

 

Or they may be made to look pretty, with Town Councillors talking of commissioning artists to improve the aesthetics of the poles.

 

I think the approach is called “putting lipstick on a pig”.

 

And from the public comment I’ve seen the concern is less with the poles than with the obtrusive solar panels.

 

As one commenter on this site wrote, “the canopy should be of trees”.

 

Mayor Damien Ryan, who raised the matter at last night’s committee meetings, was not concerned about “the community backlash” but about the fact that the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics (DIPL) seems not to have known about the light poles and this has created “a roadblock” in relation to progress of the CBD revitalisation.

 

Mayor Ryan was also concerned, as were his colleagues, that councillors themselves had not been made not aware of what the lights would look like.

 

Had the matter ever come before them?

 

It would seem not, despite their site visits back in 2016 when the issues were first being discussed.

 

Who had designed the lights? he asked.

 

This did not become clear but Acting Director of Technical Services Takudzwa Charlie said they comply with Australian Standards, as required for infrastructure in a road reserve. He said discussions with DIPL can be a “bit long winded” and officers had decided to press ahead as per council’s original directive (to improve lighting in the area).

 

On this score, Deputy Mayor Matt Paterson and Councillor Eli Melky noted that the lights – “very bright” – meet council’s objective of improved safety in the area.

 

If council’s decision is to remove the lights – as public feedback suggests should be the case – officers will do as advised, said Mr Charlie.

 

Cr Marli Banks said council has a responsibility to respond to the community’s concerns. Council needed to decided if the lights are going to stay, and if so, what the scope is to improve their aesthetic?

 

Cr Jimmy Cocking wanted to understand how council got to this point. He suggested in the future making better use of the Public Art Advisory Committee when it comes to designing street infrastructure.

 

He also wanted to see improved processes to ensure better interaction between council departments (Technical Services and Community Development) and between council and DIPL.

 

Some relevant light on the issue (excuse pun) was apparently shed in council’s confidential papers.

 

CEO Robert Jennings, who had met earlier in the day with people concerned about the lights, said there were “learnings” council can take from the process, and on the specific issue, he is looking for “a win win” solution.

 

 

 

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30 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. Interested Darwin Observer
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 1:04 pm

    Steve T: No argument here regarding the “abilities” of the NT Labor Government!
    Just unsure what proven performance Mayor Ryan has ever demonstrated that suggests he is going to be a mover and shaker in NT Parliament.
    He has consistently rejected calls for curfew. In Araluen, my money is on Robyn and – being realistic here – worst case scenario, hopefully, being a TAP/CLP Coalition Government.
    Back to these lights: This is completely an Alice Springs Town Council stuff up. Not DIPL (not that DIPL are not an even more incompetent, spread sheet ticking top heavy bureaucrat run mess).
    These lights stink of a relentless ideological pursuit of “green” initiatives with no consideration for logic (grid power available and existing light posts exist that could be upgraded) or aesthetics.

    View Comment
  2. Curious
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 12:31 pm

    @ Steve T: What exactly did Mayor Ryan do to help small businesses regarding the curfew that “did a lot of good”?

    View Comment
  3. Steve T
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 11:23 am

    Apologies for the late reply, I am very serious about putting my vote for Mayor Damien Ryan.
    In regard to what Mayor Ryan has done I can only state what I have seen which is in helping small business in relation to issues of the curfew. I did not see Mayor Ryan run out and broadcast his help but it did a lot of good.
    For the Darwin observer, I will have some paint delivered to the Berrimah Line for you to utilise or if more convenient I can drop it into the Labor Party office in Alice Springs?
    After all, we know Labor maintains the Berrimah Line.

    View Comment
  4. Interested Darwin Observer
    Posted May 18, 2020 at 8:19 am

    Steve T – Are you serious or just being facetious?
    The area of works do not come under DIPL control. It is council road and walkways. DIPL should not be involved and they most certainly are not the people in charge on this matter.
    What has the Mayor ever done? He has achieved nothing in council. He is still struggling with the youth curfew conundrum despite it being CLP policy.

    View Comment
  5. Marina
    Posted May 15, 2020 at 1:58 pm

    @ Domenico Pecorari: I feel pseudonyms are essential in a small town and have bad experiences with people who want to know who are people that oppose their views.
    I know the NT Police are excellent in protecting people from those unbalanced and emotional who may have mental health issues.
    These are facts and they are ordered every day in the Local Magistrates Court. Convictions?
    This is a comments area not an area to pry into people’s privacy.

    [Please note our comments policy. ED]

    View Comment
  6. Steve T
    Posted May 15, 2020 at 12:34 pm

    I can see how DIPL is involved, that is obvious. Also, Mayor Ryan as I see it raised the matter in the best interest of Alice Springs CBD Development. Not sure how Dale Wakefield is in this?
    Nothing has been done by Labor in the last four years I can see except a cloud causing a major blackout.
    One thing is for sure I will definitely be voting for the Mayor Damien Ryan, he knows how to get things done in Government.
    [ED – We asked “Steve T” let us know what in the Mayor’s 10 years in office makes him assert “he knows how to get things done in Government”. We did not receive a response.]

    View Comment
  7. Domenico Pecorari
    Posted May 15, 2020 at 11:25 am

    @ Watch Michael Moore; Renewable Wind; Michael Moore was a … et al.
    For a balanced review of this controversial documentary you should read the article in The Conversation (May 7, 2020) by Ian Lowe, Emeritus Professor at the School of Science, Griffith University, in which he dissects the good, the bad and the ugly in the doco’s revelations.
    By the way, why do you all hide behind pseudonyms? Show the courage of your convictions and use your real names, please.

    View Comment
  8. Karen
    Posted May 14, 2020 at 4:03 pm

    One word: Ugly.
    I heard it had nothing to do with the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics.
    The council knew fully about this dumb exercise – was it something to do with Dale Wakefield?
    And yes for our so called Mayor to say he’s not concerned about public backlash: Us ratepayers pay your wage and don’t forget it.
    Don’t bother running for a seat. You will lose.

    View Comment
  9. Renewable Wind is just that!
    Posted May 13, 2020 at 7:15 pm

    @ Watch Michael Moore planet of the humans: I thought Moore’s film of wind and solar and the chemicals, massive fossil fuel use to make wind farms and solar panels and the little outcome shows the world the con that renewables is.
    All use toxic materials and are expensive to remove as waste.
    Over it arm chair battery lover needs to get informed and understand these issues before blurbing unintelligible waste. Wind waste hot air!

    View Comment
  10. Litmus
    Posted May 13, 2020 at 5:03 pm

    Fair Dinkum, councillors. What’s the point of them? Clearly they are not accountable to the ratepayer.
    Spend most of their time advancing personal interest and make bad decisions.
    They seem to have no clue what the well paid third level bureaucrats are doing. Sweep them out and let’s have wards. Make them represent the ratepayer.

    View Comment
  11. Michael Moore Was a Huge Greeny
    Posted May 13, 2020 at 4:29 pm

    @ Watch Michael Moore planet of the humans: Thanks for the Youtube video on Michael Moore’s expose of renewable fraud. A major revelation.
    This is huge and you are right, it changes everything on renewables which is a contradiction in terms.
    Moore is world renown for attacking capitalism for polluting the planet and now has done a 360 not a 350 in defining fraud across government and renewables.
    No one would have thought Moore and his Greeny mates would have exposed Al Gore and others for profiting from renewable energy and at the same time selling the Greens out.
    The cat is out of the bag now.
    What is the childish over armchair fellow whatever on?

    View Comment
  12. Over armchair experts
    Posted May 13, 2020 at 3:03 pm

    @ Watch Michael Moore planet of the humans: Another silly argument from someone whose only research has been to watch the same film from the same person three times.
    And what’s even funnier is that said commenter probably watched it on a smart device or a laptop at some point. Can you guess what those pieces of technology contain?
    If you are worried about lithium-ion or nickel batteries poisoning you, you shouldn’t own anything battery operated, because most domestic batteries fall under these two categories.
    Also, you would probably have to ingest said battery to be exposed to said elements.

    View Comment
  13. Ralph Folds
    Posted May 13, 2020 at 11:07 am

    Intriguing that ASTC councillors so rarely if ever criticise operational matters.
    One might think that they represent ratepayers’ interests as well as being part of the machinery of local government.
    Since ratepayers’ interests and the ASTC’s are all too often in conflict it might be thought that councillors would speak out on our behalf.
    But that doesn’t happen.
    For all the rhetoric about councillors making things happen for ratepayers a typical response to a complaint to them is that they will forward it on to the CEO’s office.
    A review is a good idea and would clarify just how the ASTC and councillors can be much more responsive to ratepayers.

    View Comment
  14. Peter
    Posted May 13, 2020 at 8:36 am

    There is now a compelling case for a review of the Alice Springs Town Council that includes ratepayer submissions. Time for Councillors to demand it. Those that do will get my vote.

    View Comment
  15. Alan Harrison
    Posted May 12, 2020 at 6:55 pm

    Andrew Crouch is on the money here, particularly the signs on Anzac Hill. They have killed the drive up. Looks like a concept rejected by the Pink Roadhouse. Hope my rates and taxes don’t pay for this stuff.

    View Comment
  16. Watch Michael Moore planet of the humans
    Posted May 12, 2020 at 5:50 pm

    @Target Practice.

    Solar and Wind Power have been exposed as Al Gore and his rich mates manipulating governments around the world. Watch this free Youtube video and your uneasiness with renewables such as solar and wind are confirmed.

    While we all hope to have non toxic renewable energy Moore exposes the renewable industry as extracting money from government and we are all paying for power through the nose.

    We are using fossil fuels to build unreliable, highly toxic and fossil fuel dependent base load energy to prop up renewables such as wind and solar.

    The part that exposes hybrid electric vehicles had me in stitches, the poor CEO of General Motors looked very ordinary admitting coal was the only real base load energy that could run these cars, and then it was admitted that solar does not work at night and wind is unreliable.

    Everyone who has watched Moore’s expose is changed forever, I watched it 3 times, get some popcorn, you will not be able to turn it off.

    P.S WARNING: Lithium-ion batteries and products that contain lithium-ion batteries can expose you to chemicals including cobalt lithium nickel oxide, and nickel, which are known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.

    View Comment
  17. Mark Wilson
    Posted May 12, 2020 at 3:44 pm

    Alice’s latest ‘Ruby Princess Moment’? So who IS responsible for this visual atrocity?

    View Comment
  18. Andrew Crouch
    Posted May 12, 2020 at 3:04 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with the suggestion that Council should make (better) use of the Public Art Advisory Committee when such projects are in the design phase. The same should have applied with the signs going all the way up Anzac Hill.

    View Comment
  19. Interested Darwin Observer
    Posted May 12, 2020 at 2:36 pm

    Over armchair experts: The recyclability, or lack there of, of solar panels is a growing global issue. Alice Springs most certainly is not equipped to deal with this waste. There is certainly an argument that low value usage of solar panels should take into account the full life cycle.
    Rip them out!

    View Comment
  20. Perrule
    Posted May 12, 2020 at 2:14 pm

    I got a shock when I first saw them, they are so ugly.
    If they haven’t been installed properly, remove them and put them somewhere else.
    There’s a few places on the outskirts of Alice where they are less likely to be vandalised, put them to good use there.

    View Comment
  21. Watchn
    Posted May 12, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    Who supplied and installed them? Do they get paid again for removal?

    View Comment
  22. Maya
    Posted May 12, 2020 at 12:45 pm

    Once more, a case of “my left hand does not know what my right hand is doing”, and we, rate payers, pay the cost.
    The poles with their solar panels are indeed an ugly feature in the main commercial and heritage street of our town.
    They may shed some shade in the summer months, or we may get used to them as we get used to any novelty. Possibly.
    Solar panels are recommended to reduce coal or gas usage for our local power consumption, but couldn’t we place them out of sight and try to beautify the CBD with more greenery?

    View Comment
  23. Domenico Pecorari
    Posted May 12, 2020 at 12:28 pm

    This is only the latest fiasco of many we have seen in recent years.
    With street power available, the decision to install autonomous solar units instead of additional street lights matching the existing does not make us look “green”, as may have been the intention, but stupid.
    I cannot buy the explanation provided by Acting Director of Technical Services, Takudzwa Charlie, and would ask Actual Director of Technical Services, Scott Allen, for an explanation and confirmation as to exactly who made the decision to have these lights installed, and whether that decision was made with sufficient information regarding their design and appearance.
    Alice is awash with poor design decisions, to the point that it is affecting our reputation as a tourism destination.
    Just have a good look at the tourist information screen in front of Adelaide House as a glaring example (pun intended).
    I believe that The Alice needs good design-led decision-making if it is to revive a local economy and build up an identity as a Smart City worth visiting and living in.
    And yes, I agree that the eleven light poles (yes, eleven!) need to be removed, before anyone else notices the blunder.

    View Comment
  24. Over armchair experts
    Posted May 12, 2020 at 11:56 am

    @ Target Practice: I genuinely don’t understand your argument against solar power.
    If you are so against “toxic chemicals near human life” then I guess you never swim in a pool, use any sort of cleaning products or drive your car, because of fear of the toxic chemicals involved in the process.
    Even your standard table salt is made up of sodium ions, bonded with chlorine ions.
    Ever wondered what these toxic elements could be doing to your body? (Spoiler: more than a lithium ion battery would be doing, unless you decided to eat said battery.)
    For what it’s worth, one can debate the ugliness or inappropriate nature of these lights, without dragging out baseless and silly arguments about solar power, picked up in a three minute YouTube video.

    View Comment
  25. Peter
    Posted May 12, 2020 at 11:35 am

    $192,00 for these lights and they are not installed properly.
    Make that $200,000 including the cost of removal.
    There is no other location where ugliness is OK and the expense justified.
    These are our rates being wasted.
    Chief solar lights advocate Jimmy Cocking now wants a committee to advise.
    The impression is of a bitty, disconnected and often bungling bureaucracy.
    With 200 office staff I guess it is important to keep them as busy as is humanly possible.

    View Comment
  26. Target Practice
    Posted May 12, 2020 at 10:36 am

    I can see in the future at about 2am there will be juvenile delinquents throwing bottles or whatever they can at these solar panels.
    By the way solar panels are very toxic including lithium ion batteries that do not last very long and need to be disposed of responsibly and very costly.
    Mother Earth does not like toxic chemicals near human life.

    View Comment
  27. James
    Posted May 12, 2020 at 10:10 am

    @ Surprised. Yes Mr Ryan says he is not concerned about community backlash i.e. opinion.
    Are any of them genuinely concerned about what ratepayers think?
    Recently highlighted was the issue of a suburban court being made into a no standing zone for the convenience of rubbish removal once a week.
    No street parking, no post office parcel deliveries etc.
    Jimmy Cocking was asked if he would raise this issue.
    He did not respond and nor has the Council reacted.
    This is just one of many issues that Council ignores in favour of their own agendas.
    As you say, let’s remember at voting time.

    View Comment
  28. Posted May 12, 2020 at 9:32 am

    A useful demonstration of just how over-governed we are; but not that we needed it.

    View Comment
  29. Interested Darwin Observer
    Posted May 12, 2020 at 9:25 am

    Forget about DIPL consultation – this is not their turf. They have previously had their own epic fails – like the installation of the pedestrian island at the Heavitree course-way – only to quickly be removed. If ASTC are not in the loop of any NTG funded CBD revitalization then there is a serious issue there.

    The lights can not be made attractive. Pull the pin now and remove them. The lights can be reused somewhere else. A close inspection of the lights indicate that they are not properly installed – if a bolt is not all the way through to the top of the nut, then the installation and structural integrity is at risk and not in compliance with the engineering. The mortar under the lights need to be removed, the bottom nuts wound down then the top nuts reinstalled. Re- mortar under the light and then cut of the bolt (threaded rod) flush or just above the top nut.

    As such – lets just save the town the eyesore and remove them. Then let the ASTC advise the town the cost of this stuff up (I would guess $60K) and publicly apologise and commit to doing better consultation with constituents in the future.

    Please don’t spend good money after bad!

    View Comment
  30. Surprised!
    Posted May 12, 2020 at 9:00 am

    One very concerning comment in this article. The fact that Mr Ryan says he was not concerned about “the community backlash” translates into, he has no regard for his employers (Rate payers) opinions.
    Suggest we all remember this at voting time.

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