By KIERAN FINNANE
No shopping centre in Australia would use council land, such as the road reserve, for their infrastructure, says Alice Springs Town Council director of Technical Services Greg Buxton, referring to the application by the Alice Plaza to install a grease arrestor outside their premises.
Right: Patrons enjoying al fresco tables at Piccolo’s in the revamped Todd Street North. Across the road the mostly closed doors of Alice Plaza’s eastern frontage.
But, Alice Springs Town Council “is one of a very few that will not allow it”, says the Alice Plaza property manager, Tony Bowes: “I have managed quite a few centres where the grease arrestors are on council land.”
Is there a solution to the stalemate? At stake is having a café with al fresco seating on the eastern side of the Plaza, bringing some much-needed vibrancy to the recently revamped Todd Street North.
Thus far the communication between the parties seems to have been riddled with inconsistencies and misunderstandings: Mr Buxton says the application from the Plaza was for a grease trap in the vicinity of the Rainwater Reflection Pan in Parsons Street. Mr Bowes says it was always for Todd Street and the reply he received from council would seem to confirm that. It says, “The Alice Springs Town Council will not allow a Grease Trap to be located in our footpath in Todd Street”, signed Stephen Baloban, Manager for Infrastructure.
Cr Steve Brown has commented: “If usage of the street frontage of Alice Plaza is dependent on the installation, I am certain that elected members will be very interested in finding some way to accommodate that usage”. At the same time he says the issue came before elected members but was rejected, for reasons which he can’t remember.
Mr Buxton does not think it ever came before elected members. He thinks it may be being confused with an application from the Plaza to allow al fresco dining, to which he says council raised no objection. On the grease trap issue his department referred the Plaza to Power and Water, which “may be able to find other options for you”. The option in mind was for the Plaza to get a waiver from P&W to install a small grease arrestor internally, under the café’s service benches. Apparently coffee shops used to be allowed to do this.
Mr Bowes says such a solution “maybe ok for small cafes, but not for what we were proposing”. He also says that P&W told him such an arrestor “would need to be inspected, maintained, and emptied on a monthly basis”. He previously told the Alice Springs News Online that the large arrestor they hoped to install under Todd Street would only require pumping out once every six months.
Mr Buxton also suggested to the News that the Plaza should seek a solution within their own premises, see whether they could get into their existing grease arrestors, which they must have for other tenancies.
The News put this to Mr Bowes who rejects the idea as “not practical” and “quite ludicrous”. He says all the existing grease traps in the Plaza are on the far west side of the building: “We would need to install pumps and piping up to the roof, across the Plaza, and down the other side.”
He says if the Plaza were allowed to install the grease trap in Todd Street, they would actually lease the portion of land required from the council.
It doesn’t sound like such a big deal given the benefit it could potentially bring to Todd Street North. However, Mr Buxton is concerned that it would “create a precedent” and that council would soon be dealing with similar applications “up and down Todd Street”. He also says building and health regulations require properties to contain their infrastructure on their site. But at the same time he expresses frustration that the issue has come up now, after the refurbishment works have been completed.
That sounds like a chink in the armour …
Alice Plaza and the street: can we try a bit harder?
Alice Plaza: no plans to front the street
By KIERAN FINNANE