Tuam’s business community has stressed the importance of a walking and cycling greenway through the town as the path to increasing footfall significantly and provide a huge economic boost.
Later this month, members of Galway County Council will vote on a motion calling for a feasibility study to be carried out on a greenway between Tuam and Athenry.
But earlier this week, a number of business owners in the town addressed a meeting of Tuam Municipal Council asking them for their support of a greenway and outlined the potential benefits it would have for the whole North Galway area.
The deputation included two restaurant owners, a shopping centre manager and an auctioneer who all supported the idea of a greenway. They came with supporting documentation from several local sporting clubs along with a petition that was signed by around 3,000 people.
Restaurant owner Damien Cosgrove of the Leaf and Bean Cafe told councillors and officials that he started in business this time last year and now employs 12 staff.
He said that Tuam was “an up and coming town” and should have the social amenities that are available to other similar-sized towns around the country.
The provision of a greenway, he believes, would entice even more people into the town and that this would benefit everyone in business.
“We need increased footfall into the town and the provision of a greenway is one of the ways that we can achieve this. It would also have the potential to boost the likes of Athenry and Milltown,” Damien added.
Siobhan Flaherty is the owner of Gather Restaurant on High Street, which employs eight full time and four part time staff, and she too believes that a greenway would be a huge boost.
The Abbeyknockmoy native said that she worked in the hospitality industry in Athenry for three years but saw a great opportunity in Tuam and that is why she moved.
She said that, given their location, they only open from Thursday to Sunday but the provision of a greenway would be on their doorstep and this would allow them open seven days and create more employment.
“A greenway could be of so much benefit to the town. I know that 150,000 people used the Athlone to Mullingar greenway over the past six months so there has to be potential there,” Siobhan said.
Manager of Tuam Shopping Centre Graham Bogle said that he was “crying out for footfall” and believes that the provision of a greenway would achieve this.
He said that the greenway would running be in the vicinity of Tuam Shopping Centre, of which there are 12 units occupied, and that this would help them greatly.
Auctioneer John Joyce, who headed the deputation, said that while the housing market was buoyant, the commercial sector was “on the floor”. He added that the town was littered with disused buildings and he wanted this situation reversed.
He described the old railway track, as it stands, as an eyesore and that a greenway would revitalise the business sector in the town. He also said that there was no longer a safe place around the town for families to go for a walk or leisurely cycle.
He envisages a cycle route from Athenry all the way to Claremorris with the likes of Tuam and Milltown to benefit along the way. He asked councillors for their support of the greenway campaign.