The YMCA has withdrawn from its aquatic centre management contract more than two years before it was due to expire in July 2014.
The Town Council is now calling for tenders, seeking "professional and experienced managers of aquatic and leisure facilities for the contract which will commence on Sunday 1 July, 2012".
This follows disclosure of financial difficulties first reported by the Alice Springs News Online and more recently, an intervention by WorkSafe in the handling of chlorine gas cylinders.
Earlier problems had been described as "major".
Council CEO Rex Mooney says “council and the current contractor have agreed that a new management tender is in the best long term interest of the operations of the facility.”
Chair of YMCA Central Australia Fiona Davis says: "YMCA Central Australia would like to thank Alice Springs Town Council for the guidance and support with Alice Springs Aquatic and Leisure Centre, which is a wonderful facility and a valuable asset for Central Australia."
The sealing of the 157km Namatjira Drive, which began in 2006, will finally be completed in early 2014, according to Minister for Lands and Planning Gerry McCarthy. On Tuesday he announced $5m worth of funding will be in this year's budget for sealing the final 7km stretch. Work won't start however till mid 2013.
The drive must be one of Australia's most scenic, connecting with Larapinta Drive west of Alice Springs, heading along the MacDonnell Ranges to Glen Helen and beyond from where it heads southwards to Gosses Bluff. An estimated 41 to 183 vehicles travel the road per day.
The on-going sealing of the Tanami Road will also get an allocation of $2m in the budget. The Tanami runs from the Stuart Highway to the WA border, a distance of 703 kms. Sealing began in 2004. To date some 220kms have been sealed, in six separate stretches. The $2m will cover another 4kms.
There are ripples of activity at either end of Todd Mall. At the southern end, a new travel shop is shouting out from the corner of Gregory Terrace and Todd Street, the first business to open there after a string of closures and relocations. And at the northern end, there's a new cafe, Ziggiz, and this week Piccolo's restaurant relocated to where Oscar's used to be.
No-one can have missed the artwork on the travel shop, but inside there's more to it than its new look and the usual booking service. The core attraction is access to Wicked Campers. The shop's been open about two weeks. Customers are coming in off the street and online. There's a good mix, says Manager Sara Bangs: "We've had a couple in their sixties taking a car, it's not just for backpackers."
Asher Tuzewski is the man behind Ziggiz cafe, tucked into a little shopfront of the cinema complex. It opened about three weeks ago.
They start early, by 7.30am, and go till late, the exact time depending on what's happening at the cinema.
"In the cities you can go to a cafe day or night but in Alice Springs there was nowhere like that. We're the only non-alcoholic venue open late. It's a cultural readjustment."
The cafe's presence makes a contribution to improved security in the north end of the mall: "We're an extra pair of eyes in the area and we've been able to help clamp down on some issues."
Asher, who grew up in Alice, sees the cafe as part of a big picture: "I want people to believe in this town." KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured, top: Signage you can't miss, the new travel shop on the corner of Gregory Terrace and Todd Street. • Above: Ziggis cafe, a welcome new presence at the northern end of the mall, often a hot spot for anti-social behaviour.
Why an A'van? That's easy: you can fold it down to half its height in 20 seconds and it won't cause the fuel-guzzling drag a normal caravan does.
The A'van – starting price $25,000 – is strong. None of the walls are made from canvas.
The triangles on either side fold on top of each-other, and so do the quadrangles front and back, all resting on the bench tops inside for towing.
They are great for two people on a trip of a couple of weeks (although too small for extended living, having no bathroom, for example).
Why these simple advantages spawned a veritable cult – very benign, to be sure – is a bit of a mystery, until you discover the friendly like-mindedness of the owners.
Photos: Like Doctor Who's telephone box – it's so much bigger inside: June Hicks in her A'van in Alice today, at the MacDonnell Range Caravan Park. Chilling outdoors in The Alice after couple of days of rain. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
All vacancies will be filled on shire councils, with enough nominations coming in by today's deadline. In fact in Central Desert, MacDonnell and Barkly Shires supplementary elections will have to be held as there are now more nominations than vacancies.
In the Anmatjere Ward of Central Desert Shire four people have put up their hands for three seats. They include two former councillors, James Glenn and Dianne Martin. Mrs Martin stood in Southern Tanami Ward, where she lives, but missed out there. You have to live within the shire to stand, but not necessarily within the ward. Southern Tanami is adjacent to Anmatjere.
The other two nominees for Anmatjere Ward are Marlene Tilmouth and Benedy Bird.
In MacDonnell Shire's Rodinga Ward, where there is one vacancy, Rosalie Riley and Louise Cavanagh have nominated.
In Barkly Shire, Rosalie Kunoth-Monks, its former president, did not stand March 24, but has now nominated for a councillor position in the shire's Alyawarr Ward. There are two vacancies and four nominations. The others are Timothy Jakara Price, Leslie Morton and Eileen Bonney.
Pictured: Candidates in the Anmatjere Ward supplementary election: Dianne Martin (left) and James Glenn. Both served as councillors during the first Central Desert Shire Council.
Take a look at the Central Desert Shire's "Accounts receivable" summary and you begin to get a picture of the complexity of shire operations. Their debtors range from small local businesses, a plethora of Aboriginal organisations and other NGOs to government departments. Most of it is quite in order, within the normal 30 day turnaround for accounts. But over $500,000 has been owed the shire for more than 90 days and a big swag of this is owed by Territory Housing. As at February 29 the amount was $403,992.06.
Some of that has since been paid. However invoices for over $300,000, relating to work done in 2010-11, are still being verified, according to a statement from the department.
At the last council meeting CEO Roydon Robertson told councillors that a number of shire CEOs had met with the head of the department to try to resolve their "massive concerns", as a result of which a working party was being formed.
This has apparently helped. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Central Australians would get much more influence over their affairs if the Country Liberals gained power in this year's NT election, says Opposition Leader Terry Mills.
In an interview with the Alice Springs News Online yesterday he said locals and the town council will have a greater say about town planning, and stakeholders will be involved in decisions over tourism promotion.
Alcohol control measures will "bring back peace to the streets of Alice Springs" and will have strong mandatory elements. There is no mention of a take-away free day nor a floor price.
The big shires may be broken up so that decision making is brought "closer to the people".
And while policies have yet to be fine-tuned, Mr Mills promises cheap residential land to enable young people to "get a stake in the Territory".
He spoke with editor ERWIN CHLANDA. Photo:Mr Mills addressing protesters outside NT Parliament during its sittings in Alice Springs in last year.
The Facebook site Assist your local Alice Springs Police is "not about presenting racist remarks. It is about reducing the harm associated with crime and anti-social behaviour".
This appeal comes from Police Senior Sergeant Michael Potts (picture from Facebook) who earlier this week was listed on the site as its administrator.
Sgt Potts said in a posting yesterday, apparently referring to the Alice Springs News Online report, posted on Tuesday: "Due to a recent news article and some posts / comments that have been written I wish to clear up some issues.
"Firstly I am not an Administrator for this site although I have asked to be put back as one to enable me to make this post.
"The Administration of this group is now in the hands of the community and has been this way for about a week.
"It is clear that some people are using this forum for their own agenda and not for the aims that the group was developed for." ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
This fence is not designed to keep people in or out; it's designed to make them happy.
"It's not a new idea," designer Elliat Rich told the children. "It's a small innovation of an old idea."
She remembered how kids used to run with a stick along a fence making their own kind of music. What's different about this fence is that every pipe, tubes of copper, aluminium, brass and steel, makes a different note.
So it's called The Melody Fence. It's situated at the front of Ross Park Primary School and while it's bound to be a favourite for their students, it's also open to the public, says Assistant Principal Elizabeth Verstappen. Just step inside the front entrance on Winnecke Avenue and enjoy!
Rich worked with musician Bree van Rejk to get her fence to sing. It's in the key of C, so whatever combination of notes that is produced it will always sound harmonious. And if you happen to run along the fence from start to finish – some 15 metres – it plays a melody composed by van Rejk. – KIERAN FINNANE
Pictured: Bree van Rejk plays the fence with children from Class 2/3.
It seems a serious crime in our streets, where children were among the victims, remained unreported to both the police and to the children's services of the NT Government.
We strongly believe the following occurred: A woman and her three young children were attacked by six to eight people in the Target carpark, Todd Mall, at 8.30pm on Saturday, April 7.
She received a wound, inflicted possibly with a knife, which required 14 stitches. Her son, in his mid-teens, was apparently stabbed, and a younger son had his jaw broken. Another child and the woman were bashed.
The attackers demanded money and were given $50. They tore a gold chain off the woman's neck.
The crime was not reported to the police, and we don't know why not.
Neither was it to the Department of Family and Children's Services (FACS). ERWIN CHLANDA investigates.
Inaction on all levels of government is hurting The Alice: Former resident.
Adam Giles (pictured), Shadow Transport Minister and Member for Braitling, says taxi threat is another reminder of Alice violence. Governments are too secretive: council should lead reform, saysHal Duell. Jane Howieremembersthe great old days in The Alice.
WorkSafe have issued a "prohibition notice" after observing manual handling of chlorine gas cylinders at Alice Springs Aquatic Centre, because workers were at risk of "being crushed by the cylinders if they got away from them".
Laurene Hull, the Executive Director of the authority, says the prohibition notice does not affect public access to the pool as management is now chlorinating the water by other means.
This is the latest controversy involving the town council owned centre and its management by the YMCA.
The Y's Helen Sargent, who is in charge of the pool contract, declined to comment when asked by the Alice Springs News Online.
Recently a letter leaked to the News revealed that there are significant cost overruns for the management, and the Y is seeking a higher fee from the council.
Council's works manager, Greg Buxton, says the Y is obliged under the contract to comply within safe operating procedures which, relate also to the handling of the chlorine cylinders, and to comply with Occupational Health and Safety requirements under the Act.
"This is a matter between the Y and WorkSafe," says Mr Buxton. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.