Improvements which have taken place in Willow Park show what can be done when different groups in the community work together.
This was the feeling among council members as they discussed a progress report on the estate, for which an Improvement Plan was agreed in April 2010. To date €422,000 has been spent on improvement works for Willow Park.
Projects which have been completed include the provision of a community house and playground, boundary fencing and fencing at the Al river, tree planting, and the improvement of green areas. Road and footpath repairs have also been carried out, while car parking and turning areas have also been improved.
Several litter clean-ups have taken place, and a CCTV detection system was installed in June this year to deter illegal dumping. One camera is operating at present, but this is expected to increase in the coming weeks to monitor other illegal dumping blackspots.
There have also been improvements in dereliction; out of the 50 derelict or boarded up houses, more than 30 have been redeveloped into rented accommodation.
Of the €422,000 which has been spent on improvements, the breakdown includes €280,000 provided by the council over a number of years, RAPID funding of €35,000, €42,000 from the Young People’s Facilities and Services Fund towards a community house, €50,000 from the Sustaining Communities Fund towards a playground, €40,000 from a private developer towards a fence, and €10,000 in environmental grants.
Councillors praised the Willow Park residents association for their hard work, and for engaging with the council and the RAPID process to bring about the improvements.
“Significant environmental, social, and physical improvements have been made, and I would like to praise the residents association and their representatives who come to every RAPID meeting. There is a strong commitment there to ensure that Willow Park is maintained,” said Cllr Paul Hogan.
Cllr Sheila Buckley Byrne said the works “show what community engagement with the council and groups working together can achieve”.
“Nothing can happen without residents taking the lead. There have been a number of purchases of houses in the area, and when families are moving into an area things are looking up,” she added.
However Cllrs Buckley Byrne and Gabrielle McFadden expressed concern at damage to the fencing at the back of the estate and continued illegal dumping at the Al river.
Town engineer Alan Kelly said that while the fence has been fixed two or three times already “at huge cost”, it would be fixed again.
“But there is a limit to what we can do,” he warned.
Town clerk Hugh O’Reilly added that work is ongoing regarding illegal dumping and dereliction.