A NEW group is to be set up to look at ways to enhance Templemore Town Park and raise its profile, following a joint meeting between Templemore Town and Area County Councillors. Three Town and three County Councillors will form the group, with the aim of boosting the Park’s overall appearance and appeal.
The committee will also seek input from interested parties in the local business community and civic organisations.
Cllr John Hogan said the park should be “opened up”. “It’s the gem of Templemore,” he said. People with properties facing onto the park should be allowed to develop them with restaurants and other facilities, like other towns across Europe. “It’d be a tourist attraction. Other towns and cities have restaurants and facilities open onto their parks.” Cllr Hogan also suggested putting up a bandstand in the Park for youth groups and townspeople to relax around during the summer.
Cllr Mick Connell said that, unfortunately, there was no way to improve the entrance to the Park due to financial constraints. During the boom, property prices rose too high for the Council to acquire buildings next to the Town Park entrance, making it impossible to widen the entrance way leading into the town centre.
Town Clerk Tom McGrath said a lot of suggestions had been put forward in relation to the Park entrance, “but nothing has come of it.” “Even with reduced property prices, it would still be outside our reach,” he said. Local authorities across the country have to make quarterly reports to the EU in relation to spending, which is kept under tight control. “That’s how close the country is being monitored,” Mr McGrath told the members.
Cllr Pauline Coonan suggested pedestrianising the entrance, and taking out a 20 to 30 year loan to rejuvenate the park entrance. “The town park is special,” said Cllr Denis Ryan. “The County Council has put in two new officials, one to promote tourism and the other development.” Cllr Ryan suggested contacting these officials with a view to exploring possibilities for promoting the park.
Cllr Martin Fogarty suggested highlighting the River Mall as a water feature, with a walkway entering into the park from that side. Cllr Eddie Moran called for the building of a caravan park, similar to those found in other towns.
Cllr Maura Byrne put forward a motion, seconded by Cllr O’Lily Brien, that the Councillors bring back information about what needs to be done. “I think we need to engage with people in the town,” added Cllr Coonan. “So that it’s not a just Councillors’ thing. Only with a consensus, can something like this go forward.”
Cllrs Maura Byrne, Martin Fogarty, and Mayor Joe Bourke were nominated from the Town Council. Cllrs John Hogan, Eddie Moran, and Pauline Coonan put their names forward from the County Council.
Separately, Templemore may have its “very last” Town Development Plan in the near future, heard the meeting. Cllr Pauline Coonan said the new plan was “very important for Templemore... I think it restricts development in the town. We’re slow off the ground to develop the town, compared to other towns. It’s a mistake we’ve made.” Cllr Coonan said some major retailers had bypassed Templemore, and called for “meaningful development”.
Cllr Mick Connell criticised the restrictions placed on building takeaways in the plan. “There are no more takeways for Templemore. That is dictating policy. I don’t see why takeaways should not be included.”
Cllr O’Brien said she could see a “u-turn” on that. “Competition is the spice of life,” she said. Cllr Coonan added that takeways can be valuable in terms of protecting young people at night time.