The committee for the development of Terryland Forest are growing frustrated at the lack of progress with the project.
That’s according to the chairman of An Taisce’s Galway Association and member of the committee, Derrick Hambleton, who made the remarks at NUI Galway’s Social Science Research Centre’s annual conference in a speech on the necessity for an urban park in Galway.
Mr Hambleton, who had been drafted in to replace Brendan Smith who couldn’t make the engagement, echoed the veteran campaigner’s belief that the progression of Terryland Forest Park should be a priority in Galway.
Mr Smith had previously said that he believed Terryland Forest Park could be the ‘Phoenix Park of Galway’ and expressed concern about frustrating delays in the project.
Mr Hambleton explained that the campaign to create an urban park for Galway went back to the 1990s when a committee of people came together with Galway City Council to progress the idea.
Meetings were held with Gordon D’Arcy, environmental educator and artist, who produced a report recommending a forest park for Galway.
“The Crann Report’, which was presented to Galway City Council and the City Development Partnership conceived the idea of creating an urban forest for Galway, not just a park but a forest also,” he said.
According to Mr Hambleton, a new threat has arisen to the park in the city’s current development plan.
“The problem now is that with the current city development plan, there is a proposal to build a link road out through Liosbán to knock off one of the five entrances to the roundabout beyond Dunnes Stores.
“This link road is to cut through part of the park, one of the arms of the park leading up the Tuam road – that’s another hurdle that has to be overcome,” he exclaimed.
There is a rising fear amongst committee members that this is something that could fall by the wayside if there is not a renewed commitment to the project.
“The number and frequency of meetings has dropped off and I know that is something that Brendan [Smith] is very concerned about,” explained Mr Hambleton. “A lot of emails have floated on the ether over the last couple of months and we are trying to resurrect the committee.”
Parts of the original plan that have yet to be realised include the construction of path connections throughout the park, signage and the creation of parking facilities – with the proposed site for a car park at the old corporation waterworks on the Dyke Road.
“There’s a problem with the use of the old waterworks which we have been looking at – fire hazards, safety and insurance are also big issues,” he said.
Mr Hambleton believed that the health benefits and environmental protection aspects alone are enough to have the importance of the park recognised.
“The benefits to the people of Galway are paramount and I know that Brendan would have said today that he is very concerned about the future, the number of meetings and the push to get the park moving along,” he said.