KIERAN FINNANE talks to three candidates for the upcoming Town Council election.
Work together, get past the difficulty of differences of opinion, work with the whole community, for the good of the whole community: sounds obvious, sound perhaps soft, but it was a message delivered with convincing emphasis from all three Town Council candidates I spoke to for this article.
They are an assorted lot. Greater diversity is on the cards with the change to the way votes are counted in local government elections, and perhaps the likelihood of a diverse council is delivering candidates who welcome the opportunity of working with its inevitable challenges.
Despite their varied backgrounds, Aaron Dick, Dianne Logan and Matthew Campbell share a number of broad aims: rejuvenation of the town centre, doing what council can to stimulate business in the CBD, developing a greater connection with the river, protection of mature trees, much more shade, more activities for young people.
Alcohol policy and flood mitigation – in this, the year when the 20 year moratorium on a flood mitigation dam north of the Telegraph Station will be lifted – were recognised as thorny, perhaps the latter even more than the former.
While none wanted to comment too much on the mayoral race, all expressed respect for the way Mayor Damien Ryan has handled his role.
Pictured, from top: Aaron (Charlie) Dick – we need more trees and shade throughout the town, and fewer carparks in the CBD! • Dianne Logan – "Let's get it happening!", she says of rejuvenation of the CBD .
We sounded a false note of optimism last week when the Alice Springs News Online reported that the Town Council had got the message about tree protection in the Todd and Charles Rivers. Work by trusties from the gaol, observed by readers knocking down buffel grass in the Todd, was no more than usual, occurring "most Thursdays" according to council's Director of Technical Services, Greg Buxton.
We would be wrong to think that the elected members are particularly stirred by the evidence of destruction of trees in the Todd and the persistence of the conditions that threaten them. With the exception of a brief comment by Alderman Jane Clark, no-one spoke of the trees at council's meeting last night. That there was discussion at all about the state of river came down to concern about flooding. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured: Trees ablaze in the Todd, opposite the Crowne Plaza hotel, on November 8, 2011. Alice News reader Dy Kelaart took this shot, commenting: "Fire crews were in attendace as bystanders with the many obsevers watching in disbelief as fire engulfed the beautiful old river gums. An amazing spectical, shame about the majestic trees!" Senior Station Fire Officer in Alice Springs, John Kleeman, says fire crews would definitely have tried to put out the fires as "this is our job". The Alice News visited the site yesterday. Many of the trees in the mid-channel island have survived, although one (at right) has been utterly destroyed. Meanwhile, the buffel grass all around is greening up. If unchecked, by spraying or slashing, when it dries out it will again create the tinderbox conditions that fed this fire.
The ANZ carpark – from which all vegetation including mature trees was cleared on the weekend – is owned by Yeperenye Pty Ltd.
Alice Springs News Online asked the company why the trees had been chopped down and whether it was aware that it was recommended that these trees be protected as part of the revitalisation plans for Parsons Street. The company released a statement which says in part that the trees had caused "major water ingress problems" to the adjacent properties. The statement does not respond to questions about the revitalisation plans. Pictured: The scene of destruction last Saturday seen from Leichardt Terrace. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Mature trees, including red gums, have been chopped down in the ANZ carpark on the corner of Parsons Street and Leichardt Terrace. Yet these very trees were supposed to be protected for their contribution to the Parsons Street "biodiversity corridor" that is envisaged as part of the revitalisation of the CBD.
The plans for this and other projects identified after a three year consultation process are currently on display at the Town Council, which has $5m in its kitty to start the work.
The idea of the biodiversity corridor is to connect the ancient red gum west of the Sails with the Todd River. Mike Gillam was commissioned to develop a creative brief for the project and wrote about it extensively for this site on October 13.
In the brief he advises specifically that we "protect existing mature red gums including those in the carpark behind ANZ. These provide a vital stepping point in the sightline between the [ancient red gum] and the river". It's now too late. Pictured: The scene of destruction this afternoon. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
UPDATE:See below for statement from the landowner, Yeperenye Pty Ltd.