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CITY TRIBUNE

Tenders sought for €6.5 million expansion of City Museum

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The Galway City Museum is looking for architects to design a major expansion to its bayside building.

The tender calls for a project management team to design, go for planning approval and oversee the construction management for the proposed upgrade, which has a estimated budget of €6.5 million. The plan proposes to develop and expand the Galway City Museum site at the Spanish Arch into a cultural hub, extending into Comerford House and the Spanish Arch structure.

Once the plans are drawn up, the planners will seek Part 8 approval from the councillors. Fáilte Ireland have approved funding for the design stage and it is hoped they will foot €4.5m of the total bill.

A spokesman for Galway City Council said earlier this year that it hoped to be well under way on the project by the start of European City of Culture designation in 2020.

Last year the director of Galway City Museum defended the institution as a well-functioning museum which punched above its weight in terms of visitor numbers and exhibitions, despite of the building’s limitations.

It is the second most popular non-fee paying attraction outside the capital.

A draft strategic management plan by consultants on behalf of the museum detailed the “highly problematical” design of building for the display and conservation of archaeological and historical objects.

The glass throughout the building, opened at a cost of €10 million a decade ago, means the display of environmentally sensitive objects such as watercolours, textiles and prints is unsafe for long periods.

Air exchange units to regulate humidity are also inadequate to control the environment for valuable collections.

The National Gallery of Ireland has refused to lend important paintings due to the “serious” fluctuations in conditions which would breach standard international and national protocols on borrowing and lending.

The museum has applied to the Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs for funding of €360,000 to fix the environmental problems, and a further €200,000 to sort out the storage areas.

The long-term vision for the site is to move the medieval collection to Comerford House, trebling the size of the lecture room to seat up to 90 people, and reordering the current building to house the prehistoric artefacts with tales from the era.

An all-weather area outside could hold currach-building workshops, and themed markets, as well as concerts and films with a viewing platform on top of the Spanish Arch. The four Council-owned cottages opposite the House Hotel would be transformed into “living heritage ateliers” for craftspeople to work and live.

CITY TRIBUNE

Mercury hit 30°C for Galway City’s hottest day in 45 years

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –

Wednesday was the hottest day in the city over the past 45 years when with a high of 30.1 Celsius being recorded at the NUI Galway Weather Station.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the city dates back to June 30, 1976, when the late Frank Gaffney had a reading of 30.5° Celsius at his weather station in Newcastle.

Pharmacists and doctors have reported a surge in people seeking treatment for sunburn.

A Status Yellow ‘high temperature warning’ from Met Éireann – issued on Tuesday – remains in place for Galway and the rest of the country until 9am on Saturday morning.

It will be even hotter in the North Midlands, where a Status Orange temperature warning is in place.

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of our current heatwave has been the above average night-time temperatures and the high humidity levels – presenting sleeping difficulties for a lot of people.
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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CITY TRIBUNE

Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to boost Galway City Council coffers by half a million euro every year by increasing Local Property Tax (LPT) did not receive the support of city councillors.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) failed to get a seconder at this week’s local authority meeting for his motion to increase the LPT payable on Galway City houses by 5%.

Cllr Keane said that the increase would net the Council €500,000 every year, which could be spent evenly on services across all three electoral wards.

It would be used to fund services and projects city councillors are always looking for, including a proposal by his colleague Cllr Imelda Byrne for the local authority to hire additional staff for city parks.

The cost to the taxpayer – or property owner – would be minimal, he insisted.

“It would mean that 90% of households would pay 37 cent extra per week,” he said.

Not one of the 17 other elected members, including four party colleagues, would second his motion and so it fell.

Another motion recommending no change in the current rate of LPT in 2022 was passed by a majority.
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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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council needs 40 more workers to help deliver on projects

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Forty more workers are needed at City Hall ‘right away’, the Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said.

Brendan McGrath has warned city councillors that the local authority is understaffed and it needs to hire more staff immediately to deliver its plans and projects.

The total cost of the extra 40 workers, including salary, would be between €1.75 million and €1.95 million.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council had a workforce now that was below what it had in 2007, but the city’s population has grown and so too had the services the Council provides.

The population of Galway City grew by almost 11% in the 10 years to 2016, he said, and total staff numbers in the Council fell by 13.6% during that period.

Though more staff were hired in recent years, Mr McGrath said that the Council was at 2007 and 2008 staffing levels, even though the Census will record further increases in population since 2016.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council now provides 1,000 services across a range of departments, far more than during the 2000s.

He said that currently, 524 staff are employed at the City Council. This equated to 493 Whole Time Equivalents when part-time workers such as school wardens and Town Hall workers are included.

Mr McGrath said that 12% of all staff are in acting up positions, with many more in short-term or fixed-term contracts. There was a highly competitive jobs market and the Council was finding recruitment and retention of specialist staff difficult.
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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