As the landscape within Athlone changes for the positive, with an enhanced main thoroughfare now worthy of attracting business into the town, it has been announced that as part of the flood defence works currently ongoing, a sum of €3m is to be allocated to proposed public realm developments on both sides of the river, along the Quay and Strand areas respectively.
Revealing the news at the Office of Public Works in Trim, Minister of State, Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran TD, enthused as he addressed local Councillors from the Municipal District who had journeyed to hear of the latest developments within the progressive town.
“These public realm proposals will transform the town on both sides of the river, commencing with work on lights on Athlone Castle in February. We want the people of Athlone and visitors to our town to enjoy their experience along the river and create amenities for them to do so.
“The town needs to be facing the River Shannon and this can only have a positive effect for the business personnel of Athlone, while the streets leading down to the river must be designed in such a way so as to lead people towards the waterway,” Minister Moran commented.
The Minister emphasised that the proposed plans were not “set in stone” and together with the local authority and OPW would liaise continuously with the business personnel and residents in the Quay and Strand areas to reach a satisfactory conclusion with regard to any possible developments.
Entitled ‘Mending the Fabric’, the project is an initiative to unite the regenerative schemes that exist and are planned in Athlone with cultural, natural and amenity assets identified and linked to maximise their potential.
Flood barriers, contemporary in style, yet reflective of Athlone’s historical value, shall be moved to the edge along the Quays with a new public space created in front of the Castle. This space would incorporate the Galway-Dublin cycleway as it traverses the river.
Along the Strand, a proposal to create a sinuous boardwalk outside the stone wall connecting with a public space allows potential for a myriad of recreational uses. A safe public bathing area has been mooted in the environs with a jetty to accommodate the mooring of boats.
A tree lined public garden forms part of the proposed Strand development, replacing the existing car park, with an expansion of the quay along this route in curved form to serve as an event space and viewing platform.
With a rejuvenation of the link routes to the Strand outlined on the proposed plans, those arriving into Athlone will be encouraged to explore the town in its enhanced and vibrant capacity.
A strong feature as an amenity, the OPW has undertaken to clean and clear the canal and incorporated into the ‘Mending the Fabric’ mindset, this waterway has the potential for the development of a series of historical and leisure walks.
Intertwined with the cycleway, it is further evidence of the rich tapestry of potential that exists within Athlone.