A Castlebar councillor wants to see the county town’s main thoroughfare transformed into a vibrant and hip boulevard, dotted with cafés, bars, attractive squares, cobbled laneways, and a lively night time economy under roofed sections.
Cllr Cyril Burke told the Mayo Advertiser yesterday (Thursday ) that senior officials in Mayo County Council are open to the idea of tasking an architect to develop a visionary design for the future of Main Street into the next 10 to 15 years.
Mayo County Council, working in conjunction Castlebar Chamber and the elected members, have also now agreed to introduce free morning to lunchtime parking in the Castle Street and Market Square carparks in a bid to make shopping on Main Street more accessible than ever.
The free parking will be introduced in November on a pilot basis and, if successful, is likely to be extended into the festive season.
Cllr Burke said the vision for Main Street won’t happen overnight.
“We need to plan it long-term and really look at traffic flow and maybe a short pedestrianised section,” he explained.
“Main Street has a totally different shopping experience to offer. It has a different atmosphere and we need to capitalise on that.”
He pointed to Galway’s vibrant Shop Street, and said Castlebar could recreate that type of attractive and atmospheric experience on Main Street.
“Everyone is behind Main Street and I think there is an appetite for people to really buy in to this,” he said.
“We would have to work towards it for a number of years because we need to develop the whole experience of making Main Street a place to browse the shops, enjoy a coffee, or eat in a restaurant, a place to get away to and really enjoy.”
Cllr Burke suggested pedestrianising Main Street to celebrate the newly launched international Mayo Day on May 2, and one or two other days a year.
“This would introduce people to the concept of pedestrianising the street because this has to have buy-in from the business community.”
President of Castlebar Chamber Sylvester Jennings welcomed the introduction of free parking and the news that an architect could be tasked with developing a vision for the street.
“We have been working very closely with elected representatives and Mayo County Council to see free parking introduced. I think it will make it really easy for shoppers to enjoy all that Main Street has to offer,” he said.
“Main Street is a fantastic shopping street in the heart of the town and anything that can be done to develop a vision for securing, and building on that into the future, would be welcome.”