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Residents voice concerns over aquatic centre plans

Francis Farragher



Residents close to Cappagh Park in Knocknacarra have expressed serious concerns about the potential impact of a proposed new aquatic centre for their locality that could attract up to 6,000 users per week.

In a submission to the City Council, the residents of the Lios Mór estate – that adjoins Cappagh Park – have warned that the proposed centre would be two to three times the size of the existing community centre.

“It would stretch from the side of the Community Centre, through the playground, and down towards the river.

“Consequently, green areas and trees on the site would be removed and parking, as we understand it for 192 cars, would be carved out,” the residents state.

For the proposed aquatic centre to go ahead, a variation of the City Development Plant, 2017-2023, will be required, to add in a ‘special development objective’ for the recreational and amenity zoned Cappagh Park lands.

A spokesperson for the City Council told the Galway City Tribune that submissions in regard to this variation had closed on August 31.

“A report is now being prepared by the Chief Executive [Brendan McGrath] for submission to the Council within the next six weeks, which will be discussed at a full meeting of the City Council,” said the City Council spokesperson.

One of the main concerns of local residents relates to parking and traffic issues where problems already exist with matches and training sessions in the adjoining playing fields.

“With the number of daily users predicted, it is inevitable that all estates surrounding Cappagh Park would be over-run with traffic at all times if the development went ahead,” the residents state.

They also point to environmental issues such as the current designation of the site as an area of special conservation [SAC] and the need to protect local flora and fauna in Cappagh Park.

Residents in their submission also point to health and safety issues relating to traffic; possible anti-social behaviour; and the viability of the new facility, given that there are seven other swimming pools and fitness centres within 5km of Cappagh Park.

They have also suggested that an alternative to the Cappagh Park site would be the possible redevelopment of Leisureland – also due to be developed and extended over the next 15 years.

“We contend that this [Leisureland] would be a better site for the proposed aquatic and fitness centre – it is larger, more accessible, has better parking and is in a public area,” the residents state.

Local area councillor, Donal Lyons, said that while the aquatic centre development was a very ambitious and exciting one for the area, the very real concerns of local residents had to be addressed comprehensively.

“The proposed aquatic and water polo facility is one with a lot of potential for Galway but what is absolutely essential is that all the concerns of local residents are taken on board and dealt with openly and clearly,” said Cllr. Lyons.

Some estimates put the cost of the aquatic centre project in at between €11m and €15m, with a large chunk of the funding coming from the national Large Scale Sports Infrastructural Fund (total €100m).

The aquatic centre would consist of a 34 x 25 metre pool, capable of hosting water polo matches as well as a state-of-the-art gym, fitness studios, café, extended car-park and ancillary facilities.

The national sports fund has already made a preliminary provision of €23m for the redevelopment of the Galway Sportsground as the home ground for Connacht Rugby.


Galway City businesses determined to weather lockdown storm

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Despite devastation for city businesses this week amid a return to lockdown, many remain determined to weather the storm – and with the Council’s approval this week of additional measures to entice people to the city centre when restrictions ease, there is a hope that a good Christmas could save them.

Level 5 restrictions which came into force on yesterday (Thursday) have forced ‘unessential’ retailers to close their doors once again in an attempt by Government to get a handle on spiralling numbers of Covid-19.

And while those affected, mainly in the retail and hospitality sectors, are facing huge challenges to keep their heads above water, they had to remain positive that all was not lost if coronavirus could be got under control over the next six weeks.

Anthony Ryan, of the Galway City Business Association, said that while closing their clothes shops had been hugely disappointing, he had to remain optimistic.

“We just have to stay going and remain positive. Our clothes division is non-essential so that is temporarily closed, in line with the Government guidelines. Items necessary for households are essential so that means our home store remains open.

“Business had recovered quite well by September, but once Level 3 was introduced, there was a big fall off for everybody,” he told the Galway City Tribune.

Many businesses, including his own, had made huge strives to improve their online offering in recent months and it was his hope that people would continue to support local when they shopped online, even if they couldn’t get in to the physical stores.

“Online sales continue to be very strong. We hope to have our fashion website up in a couple of weeks, so there has been a lot of work going into that in the background,” said Mr Ryan.

Meanwhile, councillors this week backed a plan that will result in an overhaul of traffic flow in the city core – transforming Middle Street into a shared-surface and eliminating all cars not owned by residents on the street – ruling out full pedestrianisation due to residents’ requirements.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Plan for new cross-city public transport corridor go on display

Enda Cunningham



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Galway City Council is hopeful that a proposed new public transport corridor – linking the western and eastern suburbs through the city centre – could be ready to go for planning permission next year.

This week, a six-week public consultation process began on the ‘Cross-City Link’.

The Council is hopeful that a planning application could be submitted to An Bord Pleanála next year, and if approved, it would take 12-18 months to construct.

The Cross-City Link begins at the junction of University Road and Newcastle Road and continues across the Salmon Weir Bridge, through St Vincent’s Avenue, St Francis Street, Eglinton Street, Eyre Square, Forster Street, College Road and on to the Dublin Road.

“Through traffic, with no specific destination in the city centre, will be diverted,” the City Council said.

Uinsinn Finn, Senior Engineer with the Council said: “This corridor will connect homes with places of work, study, retail and recreation, with improved public transport journey times and reliability.

“High-quality public spaces, new and upgraded pedestrian and cyclist facilities and public transport priority will be provided, making it easier to move through the city, and to access destinations by sustainable means.

“This will create a safer place for pedestrians, cyclists and the mobility-impaired, and public transport services will move more freely. Deliveries and access to carparks will be facilitated, as will access to homes or businesses.

“The Council invites the public, landowners and other stakeholders to review the proposals, and to share their feedback,” said Mr Finn.

He said that schemes such as the new corridor are key projects and are “essential” to keeping the city moving.

“They are key to supporting sustainable travel modes and to support the ambitious targets for Galway as set out in the National Development Plan,” Mr Finn added.

He said it is anticipated the proposal can be submitted for planning consent next year, and subject to permission being granted, it would take 12-18 months to complete.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Pilot initiative will restrict car traffic around Galway City school

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Councillors have backed a proposal to restrict car traffic around Scoil Iognáid on Raleigh Row as part of a ‘School Streets’ pilot project.

The initiative, which involves a time-specific curtailment on cars at school drop-off and pick-up times, will result in the pedestrianisation of Raleigh Row, Palmyra Park and Palmyra Avenue – closed to traffic from 8.15am to 9.15am; and 1.15pm to 2.45pm.

Due to start on November 2, residents in the area will still be allowed access, but have been asked to “avoid using their car during the periods of pedestrianisation”, while those with blue badges will also be permitted to drive in the area.

Signage indicating the restrictions will be erected, while Gardaí and community wardens will enforce the pedestrianisation and parking respectively.

‘Park and Stride’ will be encouraged for getting children to school when no alternative is available, whereby parents park a short distance from the school and finish the remainder of the journey by foot – with registration enabling city school-goers’ parents to park for free in over 20 car parks.

Arlene Finn of the City Council’s Transport Department told councillors that 145 parents at Scoil Iognáid had already registered for this initiative, and by introducing the School Streets programme, the area would become infinitively safer and more appealing to parents and children wishing to walk or cycle to school.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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