By ERWIN CHLANDA
The town has lived for decades with a glaring need for major improvements. Over the last quarter of a century our readers have pushed for them, pointed out the flagrant neglect by north of the Berrimah Line governments, as well as local government’s failure to be an assertive representative of the region.
The Alice Springs News researched some of these ideas, some dating back a couple of decades, and put them to our large readership for comment. Many of the 23,215 reader comments so far we’ve published since 2011 were articulate and meaningful responses.
Now the massively debt ridden Gunner Government is committing $50m to building an art centre without disclosing where the further $400m or so required for such a “national” project will come from. The project over nearly four years has divided and embittered the community and we still don’t know what the people whose art will be shown think about the plans.
That’s just one project on which the town has been sold short by the politicians, Territory and local.
Here are some of the outstanding issues, as we are settling into the post-COVID New Normal.
Let’s return the town’s greatest landmark and one of its most significant sacred sites, The Gap, to its former pristine glory.
Let’s redirect road and rail though a tunnel 100 metres or so to the west.
This will widen the river and consequently increase the flow rate of the Todd by about 35%.
In the event of a major flood, excess water can be channelled through the tunnel.
That is being done in Malaysia, according to Australia’s top tunnel builder, who seemed to be aware of this option for Alice Springs.
This would mean that traffic is interrupted for a few hours every 20 years or so.
It would save us building a dam upstream from the Telegraph Station, a proposal that caused huge racial tensions some 25 years ago.
We would solve a traffic problem and enhance a tourist attraction.
Meanwhile our bright sparks in government are contemplating building a flyover through The Gap.
Rehabilitate the dump, start a new one elsewhere, do not extend the current one further into the national park to the west.
Leave the public access transfer facility where it is.
We generate a triple road train’s worth of rubbish a day. On the way back the truck can carry sand from the hole of the new dump (near Brewer Estate?) and bring it back to to cover the old one.
Replace the stinking treatment plant that wastes billions of litres of water a year, in the driest part of the driest continent, with a recycling facility.
Some of the gullies on the southern flank of the range, the rubbish dump and part of the sewage ponds.
It is served by water, power, road, rail and a fibre-optic link to the world, five minutes from town, 10 from the airport.
An IT village, anybody? A university? Retirement village?
Or all of the above – in the land where the sun shines 300 days a year, which has zero pollution, the greatest star sky, and a million square kilometres of uncrowded plains, mountains and deserts.
THE SOUTHERN FLANK OF THE MacDONNELL RANGES
Open up the dozen or so gullies, in the middle of our municipal area, running west from the current dump.
They rival King’s Canyon in their beauty.
Social science tells us that police doesn’t stop crime, society does.
Cops here outnumber villains (mostly kids) three to one yet youth crime continues.
This is a neighbourhood issue. Some of our neighbours live in a town camp; there are 18 of them, many of them with abysmal conditions.
We need to talk to each-other, little by little, family to family, kid to kid.
Parents having a yarn at soccer made for a great Sunday mornings for me when my four kids grew up.
Let’s create a lot of these opportunities. The alternative is more fences, more dogs, more gated communities, more no-go areas at night, more hate.