The perennial desire to create public space was a motion for discussion at the recent hosting of the Athlone Moate Municipal District monthly meeting as Town Mayor, Cllr. Aengus O’Rourke called upon the local authority elected representatives and executive members present to engage with the owners of the old Showgrounds in west Athlone with a view to developing it into an attractive park.
“As I recall the late Monsignor McCarthy afforded use of the site to the Athlone Agricultural Show committee for use as the location for the organisation’s annual event.
“Often heavy underfoot, the grounds became unviable for use as the years passed with the decision taken by the Athlone Agricultural Show committee to relocate to a new facility in 1999.
“The flood defences are carving through the middle of these lands in an east to west direction. All the land to the south of the flood defence mound is a special area of conservation (The Meadows ) and the area to the north of the flood defences is effectively land locked between the mound (on which it is expected the cycleway will proceed ) ) and the houses along Deer Park Road.
“This is a very substantial foot print of land and would be ideally located for a well designed attractive urban park open to the public and the many primary school children that attend the local schools.
“This is a highly residential area and those living within the vicinity of the Showgrounds have very little ‘green-space’ to retreat to or enjoy.
“The old Alpha Print site, which now lies idle is the perfect place to open up and create an amenable entrance to the park. All the emphasis today is on the ‘outdoors’, individuals wish to be active, particularly families now more than ever. In fact public health advice is telling us that we are a lot safer socialising with our neighbours and friends in an outdoor environment.
“We must start to invest in more green spaces, open parks and walks. The residents of Parnell Square, Deer Park Road, The Park, Lyster Street, Canal Walk and Mill Bank, all of whom reside in close proximity to the Showgrounds desire a green space which they can call their own
“I have already spoken to some of the original members of the Athlone Agricultural Show committee and they are willing to talk to the Council in this regard.
“We need to first of all establish the true ‘ownership’ of the land and this is in some doubt at the moment. However, I will continue to liaise with the original committee and the local authority executive. Once we establish ownership we can start talking in real terms, but I am very confident we can make this happen and I will certainly work hard to see that it does,” Cllr. O’Rourke asserted.