Officials from the Office of Public Works are to attend a special meeting with the members of the Templemore Thurles Municipal District in two weeks time to discuss the Templemore Flood Relief Scheme, following heated exhanges this week, writes Noel Dundon.
The scheme, work for which is already underway following the occupation of a site in the town, is still very much up in the air, and members of the council had a series of questions, which went unanswered at this weeks meeting, thereby leading to servere criticism of the OPW.
Indeed, Cllr Michael Smith labelled the whole situation ' a shambles' and castigated the OPW official in attendance who ' didn't take one note' during the meeting which lasted about forty minutes.
“If the people of Templemore were at this meeting they would be aghast at what has gone on here this morning. It's hard to believe that such a shambolic presentation could be given on so big a scheme. There is absolutely no understanding of the brief as far as I can tell and there has been no attempt whatsoever, to answer the many questions which we have posed,” Cllr Smith said.
Issues in relation to the employment of local contractors; looking at the Borris-Ileigh road which is not included under the scheme, but which could be brought into it; the securing of land and rights of way; the closing off of a portion of the Mall River; storm water connections from building to the relief scheme; the timeline involved and commencement dates; fears of dumping in The Mall if it is left in a dried out state for some time; and the level of disruption in the town during construction; were all raised, but few were answered.
Members were informed that the starting date 'is imminent' and the project would take roughly two years to complete, but there is acceleration potential also to the tune of 6 months - in other words the two year construction could be reduced to 18 months.
The frustrated exchanges from councillors resulted in an intervention by District Manager Mr Matt Shortt who said that council officials have been working with the OPW on this and the two main issues will be teased out. The technical aspects of the project could not be solved by them ( councillors), he said, but he added that the strong views expressed will be forwarded to those who are dealing with the matter and a meeting will be arranged for two weeks time to allow for further discussions.
The two key issues, upon which many other issues depend, are (1) whether or not the new drain will be the main drainage scheme or does the old drain continue as the principle one. And (2) what happens to the current connections.
Members were highly critical of the OPW and their representative at the meeting for not having the answers available to the questions asked - especially since preparatory work is already underway.