By ERWIN CHLANDA
The town council has again deferred a decision on a $1.2m upgrade of its 90 parks.
Cr Steve Brown, chairman of the Technical Services Committee since March, says a new parks committee has been formed which will be an advisory committee to the council.
“We have not had a committee for parks before. It will follow up what has been put to us previously by the residents.”
Monday’s meeting of council committees referred to the new committee a 58-page internal report that goes back two years, saying “public consultation in 2013 and 2014 emphasized that park users believed their parks needed a range of equipment to enable them to be utilised to their full extent”.
Shade structures, bike paths and additional play and exercise equipment were the most frequently requested facilities.
Says Cr Brown: “We need to be more constructive than just adding a piece of equipment here and there.
“We need to ensure the money is spent to the best advantage, such as levelling ground, fencing where there are dangerous roads, putting in ramps, and getting rid of prickles.”
The report documents past consultation with the public and recommendations resulting from it, some of which are unclear.
For example, “table and bench seating” is a frequently mentioned item, but only as a budget allocation: Beefwood Park $5000, Davidson, Shanahan, Spicer, MacDonnell and Dixon parks $3000 each, Lyndavale $8000.
But the Alice Springs News Online was unable to ascertain what such “table and bench seating” costs, whether it could be sourced from local manufacturers, and possibly from the prison, at significant savings.
Mayor Damien Ryan referred us to illustrations (pictured) in the report but we could find only one, reprinted on several pages, of a table and two benches, apparently made from metal.
No price nor other information was given. So residents interested in Lyndavale Park, for example, would be quite at a loss to work out how many of these they would be getting for the $8000 budget allocated to them.
Unsurprisingly people didn’t exactly swamp the consultation meetings advertised by the council: According to the report “about 20” members of the public attended the Oleander Park meeting, four the Beefwood one, apparently none for Davidson and Lyndavale, three for Shanahan and four for Dixon.
Cr Brown says there were 15 to 20 people at the Lyndavale meeting.
Nine parks had a total of $60,000 allocated “pending public consultation”. Mayor Ryan says the consultation with respect to four parks will occur soon.
Another poorly explained budget post are six allocations of $5000 each for “sand” to be used in playgrounds. The News has been told the preferred sand is from Jesse Gap and is sold, including delivery, for $45 plus GST per cubic meter.
We understand the standard depth required in playgrounds is 300mm, that means each cubic meter will provide a little more than three square meters of ground cover. That means for $5000 you can get 333 square meters of sand cover. The average size of playgrounds is more like 100 square meters.
As Mayor Ryan explains, part of the $5000 budget is for removing or cleaning the old sand, and spreading the new sand, but we could not find out whether that is done by the council workforce as part of its ongoing maintenance (already budgeted for), or by a contractor, if so for how much, or perhaps by prison inmates or local volunteers.
A couple more brain snappers: “Change the name [from Gillen] back to Goyder Green signage $5000 public consultation $3,000.”
And: “Reduce speed limit around [Gillen] park to 40km per hour – Public consultation $3,000 signage $2,000.”
Isn’t public consultation what councillors do? And are these signs gold plated?
By ERWIN CHLANDA