Local Fianna Fáil Councillor, Frankie Keena, has confirmed that updated progress plans pertaining to the urban regeneration of the west side of Athlone will be made available to local elected representatives at the April meeting of the Municipal District.
“I was informed by the Council Executive at the most recent meeting of the Athlone-Moate Municipal District that such progress plans would be made available to the local elected representatives during our forthcoming April meeting.
“There are three urban regeneration projects identified for Athlone following the town being designated as a regional growth centre. Westmeath County Council has appointed an internal project team to lead on these projects and I would like to thank them for their excellent work carried out to date.
“Significant progress has been made on the Athlone Town Centre regeneration and enhancement project which entails a proposal to pedestrianise part of Sean Costello Street from the Ulster Bank to Dunnes Stores and the purchasing of the former O’Neill’s pub site with subsequent provision of wide pavements. This project should be going out to Part 8 planning shortly.
“In conjunction with this, consultants are presently engaging with wider communities with regard to the Loughaniskin Urban Quarter site, obtaining their views on how they would like to see the location developed. There is a great opportunity to develop a major mixed use development on this key strategic site.
“While these two projects are underway, I am very anxious that the third project on the west side of Athlone is not left behind. This project involves the regeneration of the West Bank of Athlone as a Tourism and Cultural Quarter.
“There is the utmost need to have a complete regeneration of St Peter’s Square, Connaught Street and the relevant environs to support and encourage businesses in this area, one which is rich in culture and heritage and enjoys the presence of excellent accommodation facilities, pubs and restaurants.
“An additional part of this project is to rejuvenate and open up the natural heritage amenity in the area by way of the enhancement of the Athlone Canal and Ranelagh areas. A canal study was conducted in 2012 by the Council whereby excellent recommendations were made to enhance this beautiful waterway which is rich in biodiversity. The opportunities at Ranelagh range to the creation of a linear town park including the restoration of the No 1 Gun Battery. There is no major urban public park on the west side of Athlone and I do feel that this is an ideal location to provide one.
“The Shannon is our jewel in the crown as a visitor’s attraction and I do feel we need to incorporate our long adopted waterfront strategy in these projects. with infrastructure to support fishing, boating and riverside walks have to be included.
“I look forward to receiving an update on the west side of Athlone project next month as I will be keeping it high on my agenda,” Cllr Keena asserted.