The creation of a public town park on the west side of Athlone is a prominent aim for realisation among local councillors, the Athlone Advertiser has learned.
Speaking at the monthly meeting of Athlone Moate Municipal District, the issue was the subject of much discussion, on foot of a motion broached by Fianna Fáil councillor, Frankie Keena.
Noting the imminent need for the local authority to present a detailed plan for the creation of a linear town park on the west side of Athlone at Ranelagh, Cllr Keena stated that it was the “fourth occasion” on which he had raised this important issue.
“We have a fabulous location along the banks of the River Shannon at Ranelagh to develop and realise a town park on the west side of our town. It is an area regularly used by individuals and families for leisurely walks and if developed would be a welcome attraction within our town.
“The west side of Athlone is in urgent need of a public park and we have to act soon to ensure such a proposed development comes to fruition.
“While I realise that plans are proceeding with regard to the urban regeneration plan proposed for the west side of Athlone, would there be a possibility to avail of separate funding for the development of a public park at this location and if so, how soon could we see such a request materialise?,” Cllr Keena queried.
Supporting Cllr Keena’s motion, Green Party councillor, Louise Heavin, noted the importance of this particular plot of land which needed to be developed into a public amenity.
“We see the current success of Dun na Si Heritage Park in Moate where biodiversity has been integrated into practical parkland space and it has become a major attraction for locals and tourists alike.
“This is now the ideal time to develop this location with the greenway soon to cross the River Shannon and we can also tie in this project with our urban regeneration plan for the west side of Athlone.
“We should work together to ensure that this motion is positively acted upon and a public park is developed at Ranelagh,” Cllr Heavin asserted.
Concurring further, Athlone Deputy Mayor, Cllr Aengus O’Rourke, noted that the slow pace of the urban regeneration plan for the west side of Athlone was “good reason” to progress with the proposed public park development.
“There is no reason why this piece of land cannot be developed for public park use as suggested by my colleagues. For me, this would be a standout project when completed,” Cllr O’Rourke remarked.
Responding, director of services, Mr Barry Kehoe, stated that the local authority was in the final stage of appointing consultants to carry out an urban design and placemaking study for the centre of Athlone, as part of the Tourism and Cultural Quarter Urban Regeneration project.
“This study will consider all of the required projects in the area, including the creation of a park at this location and associated amenity improvements on the west side of the town.
“Hopefully, I will be in a position to report back to elected members in early 2022 when this will then become a priority project within our Municipal District,” Mr Kehoe concluded.