By ERWIN CHLANDA
The Federal Government is providing $10m for an upgrade of the Stuart Highway from just north of the Motor Vehicle Registry to the turn-off to the Telegraph Station.
It will get two lanes each way and the currently unregulated access from the string of businesses on either side will be made more orderly.
May Taylor, of the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics last night briefed the town council on the project as a first step of public consultation.
Work is likely to start mid next year.
“Proposed” works include two traffic lanes each way, dedicated turning lanes, upgrading the existing intersections (all intersections to remain unsignalised), on street parking and future provision for additional parking, as the need arises, upgrading to the street lighting, improvement to the local flooding issues, use of kerbing and underground stormwater drainage, upgrading to existing bus stops and improved access to the information bay.
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The solar power installation, just completed, in the civic centre carpark is set to enter an unexpected stage two.
In a lively discussion at last night’s council committee meeting, Director Technical Services Greg Buxton stated that the structure bearing the photovoltaic panels is precisely as planned by the council: It started life as a solar installation with some shading – a brief that was approved by the full council, copying a similar design at the airport (at top).
However, it is not very suitable as a provider of shade for parked cars, which is curious because it was built in a carpark.
It is not regulation height, but that doesn’t seem to be a major worry. What is a worry is that cars can’t go under the shelter far enough to get optimal protection from the sun.
That can be fixed – to a point – by removing or narrowing a garden bed in the middle of the structure, so the cars can proceed further under the roof.
There are two problems with this: 54 rubberised wheel chocks have already been installed at a cost of about $14,000 and that cost would apparently need to be incurred again.
Not really, said Cr Jamie de Brenni, who is a builder, saying much cheaper concrete chocks can be used.
That’s only part of the problem: As a drawing (pictured) in the Technical Service Committee’s papers demonstrated, if the vehicles are parked further in, some people may not be able to get out of their cars because the doors would bang against the uprights that hold up the structure.
Cr de Brenni, always a practical man, said other car park shade structures in town have uprights and motorists have learned to live with that.
But the biggest problem of them all is that the underside of the solar panels is exposed. Evil persons could chuck rocks at them or poke them with a stick. Cr Steve Brown said the situation is not good enough.
Mayor Damien Ryan, who attended from interstate via telephone which had its own problems because of inclement weather, was audibly displeased with the situation.
Finance Director Dinesh Pillay said the structure is insured but the excess is $5000.
The council, sitting as its various committees, resolved to spend an extra $60,000 for lining the underside of the structure.
As this is subject to ratification by the full council it may not be the end of the story.
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The meeting decided to get the public’s view about having an off-the-leash dog park on the site of what is now called Rotaract Park in the Northside.
Big dogs eating small dogs came up as a potential problem. Should there be limits? What is the difference between a small dog and a big dog?
Should the cut-off point be at 10 kilograms?
If the dog is medium size, how do you know whether he (or she) is above or below 10 kg?
Put scales at the gate, joked Cr Brown.
The view-expressing public will be able to refer to calculations published in yesterday’s papers for a “shovel ready” all access park that may or may not include a 20m x 60m dog enclosure.
Minus canines but with things like toilets, car parking, BMX track, play equipment, “electric BBQ x 3” and security lighting the project would cost just over $1m in the 2011 proposal.
Add the pooches, requiring such things as pet watering fountains, pet equipment (undefined) and pet poo bins, and the price would skyrocket to $1.84m.
The pet park component costing includes “Fence and 2 entry gates 1200m x $350/m Child and dog proof” for $424,000 for the 20m x 60m enclosure which, logically, would have a fence 160 meters long.
Two pages on in the report is an updated proposal for a dog compound requiring 240m of fencing priced at $96,000. The total cost of that proposal would be $158,000.
Mr Buxton explains the earlier proposal was for large dogs requiring a much higher – at least 1.8m – and stronger fence.
“With small dogs you get away with 1.2m and light mesh,” as Mr Buxton explains the difference.
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Talking about money: Your best guess for the cost of the “traffic calming device” pictured at right, similar to what was installed in South Terrace?
That “slow point” is costed in last night’s council papers as a cool $140,000 including $40,000 for upgrading lighting to meet Australia standards.
Mr Buxton himself has doubts about these devices: Some drivers see them as a challenge for their motoring skills rather than slowing them down.
And Cr Jade Kudrenko seemed to remember Cr de Brenni recount that in his younger days he managed to get airborne on the speed humps in Burke Street.
Cr de Brenni appeared not to remember that conversation but agreed with Cr Dave Douglas, who’d seen them in Adelaide, and others that Flat Top Humps (pictured) work well, won’t destroy cars and would not act as launching pads – at a mere cost of $56,000 a pop.
The meeting wants two of them to be installed in Woods Terrace.
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The Corporate and Community Committee wants to invite Families Minister Dale Wakefield to discuss the Youth Patrol program run by the council and Congress, picking up street kids at night and taking them to a safe place.
The program will be operating over the holidays but currently approved funding runs out in January. The council seems to be unanimous in its wish for new funding.
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The Bush Bands Bash, held for the first time at the Old Telegraph Station, was trouble free and a smash hit, according to Adelaide Wood, from Music NT, who addressed the meeting.
She said 240 people were taken into protective custody when the event started 12 years ago, and not a single one this year.
Sixty musicians in eight bands played songs in nine traditional languages. 2300 people attended. 53% of them were a new audience. 16% came from interstate.