€30,000 will be spent on improvements which Athlone Town Council hopes will help the Athlone Marina lose its bad reputation for good.
€20,000 has been set aside by the town council and it’s expected the remaining funds will come from savings in staffing costs, with most of the work to be done this summer.
Cllr Kevin ‘Boxer’ Moran, chair of the town council’s marina sub-committee, welcomed the plan passed by his colleagues allowing funds to be spent on improving shower facilities, lighting, WIFI access, power points, powerwashing facilities, BBQ facilities, and potentially providing parking permits for marina users.
There is currently no marina signage in the town, and it’s also hoped there will be a public counter tourism service available to visitors, with potential advertising space for local businesses.
Rather than reducing mooring rates, the council will offer better value for money, the July meeting heard, with shower costs, currently at €3, being eliminated.
A new caretaker has also been put in place, and a new staff rota to improve the efficiency of the marina’s management.
Outgoing town clerk Hugh O’Reilly said the marina is critical to Athlone, and Cllr Moran agreed, pointing out that a lot of money has already been spent on the facility, yet it has a bad reputation.
Both he and Cllr Paul Hogan, who is also on the committee, said they learned a lot from visiting other marinas across the country, and were particularly impressed by the Grand Canal Dock in Dublin.
Cllr Alan Shaw welcomed the proposals, saying it was important that local government takes a leadership position regarding the central economic role of the Shannon to the town, to actively attract as much tourism as possible to the town.
Some of the work has already begun, with new power points in place and licences and tenders have already been sought for other works, Mr O’Reilly said, adding that he hopes the bulk of work will be done by the end of the summer.
Answering queries raised by Cllr Aengus O’Rourke, Mr O’Reilly said the executive will look at the possibility of opening the closed walkway at the marina, but said it would require a lot of extra security and fencing to protect the marina.
This could cost in excess of a further €20,000 he said, but said he will ask the town engineer to examine the costs.
The sub-committee will remain in place until those issues are sorted.
Tributes were paid to outgoing caretaker Vincent Gallagher and incoming caretaker Barry Golden, both of whom were described as caring for the Shannon and the marina as if it was their own.