By ERWIN CHLANDA
The town council was required, under the agreement with the NT Government for the upgrading of the Albrecht Oval carpark, “to acknowledge the Territory Department of Transport funding in any promotional and advertising material”.
And so this morning’s official opening was “a way to publicly acknowledge the working together of the council and the government,” says Town Council CEO Rex Mooney.
At the gathering at 7.30am today the government’s contribution of $2.2m was duly announced, and now we can all go and use the new facility with a clear conscience.
Although the council had invited “all residents to an official opening” the crowd wasn’t exactly huge: The 25 or so attendees were mostly council staff and elected members.
But a dinky-di opening it was, under the shelter near the new “kiss & go” area for the Larapinta and Living Waters primary school kids.
As the mercury climbed Mayor Damien Ryan held a speech, acknowledging also the traditional owners, after CEO Rex Mooney had read out a (very short) list of present dignitaries and those who apologised.
Photos were taken, sausages were fried on the council’s own mobile BBQ, and history was made, turning “a previously underutilised dirt area” (media release) into neat grey bitumen with line marking.
For the record, the contribution from the Department of Transport’s Regional Economic Infrastructure Fund was $2,244,013.19.
Carparks in Alice Springs are still a vexed question, as became clear, again, when Mayor Ryan spoke with the Alice Springs News Online after the official function.
About half the councillors want to build a multi-storey carpark in the middle of town. This could shape up as a major issue for the August elections.
How many car parks are there in Alice Springs? Mayor Ryan didn’t know.
NEWS: How many more do we need?
MAYOR (laughs): I really, Erwin, want to take this on notice. The reality here is, you’ll remember the dirt paddock, and the confusion of traffic, now people can clearly find their way in and out. This [the carpark opened this morning] was such a bottleneck before.
NEWS: Is there a study going on as to how many car parks the town still needs?
MAYOR: We don’t have a study going on. When we work on an area we involve traffic management people who guide us.
NEWS: What about the Hartley Street proposal?
MAYOR: We have a lot of issues with car parking in the centre of town. This reflects back on decisions made over a long period of time by authorities like the Development Consent Authority, where at times projects have been built and waivers given on car parks. That is now really starting to hit home. In the middle of our visitor season it’s even more stressful. Car parking is very much on the mind of local government.
NEWS: But there is no actual study about how many more places we need?
MAYOR: I don’t think we could build as many as are needed. You have to provide the best you can and the street frontages we have now are not enough, especially with offices based in the centre of town. We live in a community where a lot of people drive to work.