Local Fianna Fáil Councillor, Aengus O’Rourke, has welcomed the local authority purchase of a prime central site in the heart of Athlone.
“For ten years now the old Finlay/O’Neill’s site has been an eye sore in the heart of our town centre. The site occupies a commanding and commercially advantageous position in the very centre of Athlone. Every visitor to the town since 2010 has surely passed it and it cannot have left a good impression.
“However, I am very pleased to say that thankfully the end to a very long period of negotiation is now in sight. When it became clear to me in recent years that neither the pub nor the auctioneers (that previously operated from this site ) would be rebuilding on the site, I insisted that the Council would actively and single-mindedly pursue the matter with the vendors and purchase the site. The Council were not always enthusiastic about buying the site, but that was then,” Cllr. O’Rourke stated.
With initial legal complications pertaining to the site, Cllr. O’Rourke noted that the local authority were not originally enthused regarding the purchase project.
“The situation became quite complicated legally for some time early on in our negotiations and this probably accounted for the Council’s lack of enthusiasm.
“However, in recent times the possibility of a deal began to emerge and I was happy to play my part in bringing certain parties together to advance practical and meaningful negotiations. These negotiations are now nearing completion. Terms have been agreed by both the Council and the vendors. With paperwork now almost complete, I am delighted to say that in the coming weeks the Council will take ownership of the site.
“We can then immediately include this full site in our enhancement design plans for this area of the town which includes Pump Lane, Mardyke Street and Sean Costello Street. Government funding is already in place for the design and enhancement of this area - this is one of our three Urban Regeneration projects. The works will tie in with the Church Street enhancement scheme which was completed two years ago.
“I would like to thank Barry Kehoe, Westmeath County Council Director of Services for his persistence in this project and for making himself available when ever required to advance matters,” Cllr. O’Rourke concluded.