The development of “a unique public space” in Mullingar is a step closer after Mullingar area councillors agreed to set aside €25,000 to research the project.
A traffic plan and public realm design for Mullingar will now be undertaken, with the town’s manager David Hogan promoting what he called “a huge opportunity to develop a unique public space”.
While there are no definite plans yet, comments at recent local area meetings indicate that the main area for redevelopment is around Gaol Hill, the county council buildings and Mount Street towards Market Square.
It has been previously suggested that Mount Street could be pedestrianised.
At Monday’s Mullingar Area meeting, Mr Hogan mentioned the possible pedestrianisation of Mount Street Gardens.
“It’s all about improving Mullingar, improving public accessibility,” he said, adding that there is “a unique opportunity to create a link with Market Square” and “a unique opportunity to develop something in the town hall”.
He said businesses see the need for improvement and his aim is to make Mullingar a destination of choice for visitors and locals.
The current town hall space - the upper floor of Market House overlooking Joe Dolan - will no longer be required to host Mullingar Town Council when that local authority is stood down at the end of May.
The area around the county council will soon house MABs and the Citizens Information Centre and Cllr Mick Dollard said the area is ripe to be developed with improved signage and visibility to create a public space.
Cllr Fintan Cooney called for the remains of the county jail to be removed, questioning how much it costs to have it maintained each year.
“It takes up valuable space,” he said, and Cllr Dollard agreed about the importance of “opening up this entire space”.
He said the old walls should be taken down because the area “has to have the aesthetics of being inviting”.
Mr Hogan told him it is a listed building but councillors have the power to de-list it.
Some of the research work will be done in-house by the council, and some by outside consultants, and the funding is part of half a million euro in paid parking income which will be spent on projects around the town.
A further €30,000 will be spent on Phase 1 of the public space around Mullingar Civic Quarter.
Other projects include €200,000 for the Robinstown sports campus, floral displays, footpath improvements, painting of street furniture, upgrading four pay and display parking meters, upgrading litter bins, safety work at schools, and resurfacing the former ESB carpark.
€10,000 has been set aside for maintenance, planting, and provision of wi-fi at the council’s Tranquility Garden.
After explaining to Cllr Fintan Cooney what wi-fi is, Mr Hogan said tourists and visitors want to be able to hook to the internet through their phones or laptops.
He said the council will pilot this in the Tranquility Park, and Cllr Dollard suggested that if it proves successful, it be introduced to the Town Park.