Park, lights: ideas for a brighter town centre  


p2580 Mall lights 660
Updated 10.32am, 13 November, 2018
Parrtjima lights left on in the mall (above) after the recent festival have been a hit with business-owners, the Town Council heard last night.
Councillor Marli Banks and Deputy Mayor Matt Paterson both said they had received enthusiastic feedback from Todd Mall traders about the benefits to their businesses from the lights.
Council will talk to NT Major Events who own the projection equipment used about the possibility of keeping the installation going.
Meanwhile, DM Paterson shared with council his ideas about developing an outdoor community space on the banks of the Todd River.
p2579 ASTC Paterson park aerial 430The area, some 5,500 sqm, is council-owned, stretching between Wills Terrace and Gregory Terrace, and between the riverside carparks and the river channel. An existing walking / riding track  goes through the site.
Right: The proposed area, outlined in yellow. 
The park would be accessible for everyone, suggest DM Paterson, including disabled people, and would seek to involve local youth in its design from the outset.
“This program can enable youth from the beginning of the project as ambassadors, then through the design stage and into planning for future requirements for the outdoor space. Often our young people are left out of the decision-making process in outcomes that affect them directly. Empowering our youth through shared decision-making creates opportunities to learn, practise and an increase of skills,” he writes in his nine-page document outlining the “business case” for the park.
Among his suggestions for its facilities are a half-court basketball court, table tennis tables, large play equipment space, accessible swings including the council-owned Liberty swing, a bike/scooter/skate friendly area (all ages),  a workout station, and a skate park of modular design, allowing its challenges to be varied.
Trees on the site should be protected during construction and, it would seem from his proposal, subsequently: “Understanding cultural sensitivities, these trees will not be touched during the works and will provide natural shade for the outdoor space. A way to protect the trees could be to install balustrades around the trees with aboriginal art work on them,” he writes.
Overall his vision is for “a gathering area for Mums & Dads to bring their children into town and to promote social cohesion”.
It will be a “one of a kind design that celebrates the natural surrounds of the landscape, and delivers a development that is beneficial to our community, yet respects the cultural sensitivities surrounding the area.
Key points that will make this project a success, says DM Paterson, included “easy and accessible parking, a disabled friendly space that promotes inclusion within our community, existing amenities on site and the closeness to cafes and shops.”
He estimates construction cost at $2m to $2.5m.
p2579 ASTC Paterson park path 430Councillors generally welcomed his proposal. A report will now be prepared by officers for consideration at the end of the month meeting. CEO Rex Mooney said the proposal has major financial and other implications, but he also noted that council has a small surplus and there are grant opportunities to support such a project.
Left: The area as it is today. 
In public question time, local historian Alex Nelson, who had heard DM Paterson discussing his idea on ABC radio, commented that it would be a “major step in the right direction”, and “the equivalent of an esplanade for the town centre”.
He also noted that almost 50 years ago, in early June 1969, a syndicate of business people from South Australia, put forward a proposal for that stretch of the river bank, pushing out into the river bed, that included a hotel, supermarket, carpark, tavern and theatre.
It was considered by the Town Management Board of the time but vociferously opposed by local businesswoman, Marlene Brown, the only woman on board.
She won the day and “quite honestly, it would have been a disaster, no doubt about it”, said Mr Nelson.
Ms Brown went on to be the first female town councillor, topping the poll of the 30 candidates standing.
Mr Nelson, getting in well early, suggested that the park, should it eventuate, be named after her.
In other council news:-
Cr Banks suggested council review the practice of public places and animal control infringement notices, few of which are paid. Are the administrative steps around the notices worth council’s while? she asked. She suggested council could review the effectiveness of this policy and operational process.
Cr Jimmy Cocking agreed, adding that the apparent impossibility of enforcement could actually be counter-productive, leading to a “sense of lawlessness”.  Council could look at what other jurisdictions do by way of deterrence.
Cr Eli Melky suggested it may be appropriate to issue community service orders instead. For example, people unable to pay could help pick up shopping trolleys left around town.
He went on to argue for a more effective council response to hooning, following ongoing reports from the Braitling area, particular Dixon Road, of hooning in cars.
He suggested stepping up penalties by, for example, impounding vehicles, and naming and shaming.
Council’s solicitor in the first instance will be asked to provide legal advice on strengthened by-laws.
There was pushback from some councillors on what they saw as over-simplification of council policies, all of which are currently under review.
The case in point was council’s trees policy, which Cr Cocking wants to ensure continues to have a focus on tree maintenance, not only planting.
Mayor Damien Ryan felt that the issues are adequately taken care of by council’s budgeting process, but Cr Cocking maintained his insistence on the need to “flesh out” the policy, especially in light of the contribution of trees in the area of climate action. (Council has just released its climate action plan for public comment.)
It was agreed to defer further discussion on the policy to the council forum next February.
Mayor Ryan later expressed his disgust with the Power and Water contractor team currently lopping street trees.
It’s not pruning, but “butchering”, he said of trees on the North Stuart Highway.
Hadn’t there been an agreement after controversy last year that an arborist would accompany the lopping team? he asked Director of Technical Services Scott Allen.
Mr Allen said he would chase it up today.
Cr Cocking asked about the preparation of the environmental management plan regarding the installation of lights at Albrecht Oval.
Mr Allen said a local company will write the EMP, which will then go to public consultation.
Cr Cocking suggested it may be better to engage constituents in developing the plan, rather than after the fact. He commented on the “fair bit of angst” amongst residents around that process, asking at what point those views and amenity would be considered.
Mr Allen reiterated what he had already said about the process.
Keeping youth in sight 


  1. The proposal by the Deputy Mayor to turn the river bank between Wills Terrace and Gregory Terrace into a developed and shared public space is a good and timely idea.
    Let’s hope Council agrees. For too long we have turned our back to the Todd River.

  2. Hmm, using the riverbank for a community open space, that seems familiar, thought that appeared in the readers’ comments section last year some time. Glad somebody has picked it up.

  3. Isn’t there already a space like that on the other side of the river that never gets used?
    Are we going to ignore the fact it would be right beside where drunks like to party and sleep, making it not the safest environment for children?
    Also, the Riverside bar which would be opposite it, I’m sure anyone who is familiar with this area knows the danger in drunks fighting during the day, loitering out the front and down the road and dodgy kids who walk around testing all the car doors for an unlocked one.
    It is a good idea just a dodgy spot, if they are going to build the Art Gallery then in that big patch of grass in front of it would be a better spot.

  4. I think the idea that this move is flawed due to the presence of the pub at its northern end is wrong.
    Consider the Gap Hotel. For years this was all but a no-go area due to its “animal bar”.
    Then new management took over, investment was made, and now The Gap is arguably the best, as in safest and most comfortable, pub in town. This shows what can be done.
    The area on the eastern side of the Riverside Pub is disgusting not because it has to be, but because it is allowed to be.
    Change the animal bar there into an attractive venue. And keep the cops at the take-away!

  5. James, the idea of the riverside area is to make it unattractive to drunks, but making it attractive to shoppers, families and so on.
    The grassed area outside the Todd Tavern would just be a starting point [followed by] the other side, where the bistro, bottle shop, coffee shop and cinema are located.
    If that area all the way up to the Parsons Street area is developed, featuring a massive, landscaped skate park complete with undercover indoor cafe, gift shop, picnic area and outdoor sports area, it would be a terrific expansion of the Mall, as long as it was policed properly to keep it that way.
    Build it high enough to incorporate flood mitigation and planning for flood events (eg proper planning), it could be fantastic.
    If Matt Paterson and his fellow councillors, through consultation with the Chamber of Commerce, residents and relevant Aboriginal groups, it will be a terrific legacy.
    Some of the skate parks in major regional areas are not hidden away, they are celebrated and woven into the fabric of the community, and are virtually public parklands that have the infastructure that attracts young people and families.
    All the best Matt, love to have a chat to you about it.

  6. Great idea!
    But now Councillor Cocking is ripping off Matt Paterson’s ideas … and has just released on Facebook a policy for a big Alice Springs adventure park that is kid friendly and tourism friendly!
    Be original and get your own ideas, Councillor Cocking!

  7. @ Local 2, Posted November 15, 2018 at 12:26 pm
    Fair go, oh you who won’t sign your name. Few ideas are born fully formed, especially the good ones. Someone proposes something, others take it up and build on it. In affairs of governance, that is the way good progress is made.
    Please don’t attempt to sow dissension. Council is showing signs of working together to better Alice Springs.
    Putting verbal rocks in their road is so not helpful. More better wait until they do something really stupid and then hop in. Trust me. That time will come.

  8. You really should get tour facts correct @ Local2. Your accusations are baseless and a cheap attempt to political point score.
    Councillor Jimmy Cocking has had “A New Adventure Playground” as a cornerstone policy since 2017 and he talks up the concept at every chance he gets.
    For the record, his media release (dated 2017) states clearly:
    “A new adventure park will be a tourism destination in its own right and be sustainable source of healthy fun in its own right”.
    Stop trying to denigrate Councillor Cocking.
    Absolutely, Councillor Patterson is to be commended for developing his identity and profile as Deputy Mayor with this issue. Councillor Cocking should welcome the support.
    But one thing is for certain, the people of Alice Springs clearly love this idea.
    The astronomical amount of Facebook likes and public commendations when adventure park related ideas are mentioned is clear.
    It was one of Councillor Cocking’s most popular policies in 2017 and it is clearly still super popular, as demonstrated last week with Matt Patterson’s public engagement in the media last week.
    The key here is for these ideas to now be developed in such a way that gives all Councillors ownership over the next stages and creates a win for Alice Springs.
    There are lot of great examples across Australia of other communities doing it well! Let’s put a uniquely Centralian style into this idea and not stuff it up.

  9. Regarding more permanent lighting projectors in the Todd Mall, this is a no-brainer and the possibilities are endless!
    Cairns has been doing similar lighting of their public mall area for a while now and it is a hit!
    Families wandering up and down the mall as their kids duck in and out of ancient patterns is exactly the type of active, vibrant dreamscape Alice Springs that we should be working towards.
    The capital cost for the light projectors AND installation expenditure is very mild compared to other things this town spends money on.
    Further, it aligns with medium and long term tourism goals for our town. The ongoing curation costs can be kept to a minimum OR increased if necessary.
    Hurry up Alice Springs leaders! Let’s take this low-hanging-fruit … buy the equipment outright and let’s all move on to the next phase of setting up our town for the future!


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