Park project

Coun­cil seeks to de­velop 14 acres of park­land.

Irish Examiner - County - - Front page - Christy Parker

Cork County Coun­cil is to seek plan­ning per­mis­sion to de­velop 14 acres of park­land close to the town cen­tre into a ma­jor gar­den and amenity at­trac­tion.

The scheme would see a mod­est area of grass­land and trees trans­formed into a land­scape of lawns, mead­ows, river­side ac­cess, and play ar­eas, with as­so­ci­ated street en­hance­ment.

The lands, known as Towns Park, lie at the town’s western en­trance and house the coun­cil’s mu­nic­i­pal district of­fices. The lodge was once home to Mar­cus Lynch and of­fered a 500m view to his 18th-cen­tury woollen mills, now ac­com­mo­dat­ing Mi­dle­ton Dis­tillery.

The park in­cludes sev­eral her­itage-type fea­tures such as a quarry, old lime kilns, and a stone wall.

The dis­tillery and ap­proach walk also ad­join a one-acre park known as Baby’s Walk with both parks tra­versed by the Dun­gour­ney River.

Each park has just one en­try-exit point and the pro­posal would see both de­vel­oped and linked.

Fer­moy-based land­scape ar­chi­tect Cathal O’Meara pre­sented a draft re­port to the plan to Novem­ber’s East Cork Mu­nic­i­pal District meet­ing in which he first out­lined cur­rent de­fi­cien­cies.

Mr O’Meara ref­er­enced the parks’ sparse ac­cess points, poor vis­ual con­nec­tions, lit­ter­ing, rel­a­tive in­ac­ces­si­bil­ity to the river, un­der­de­vel­oped path­ways, poor wood­land man­age­ment, and a gen­eral air of seclu­sion that fos­ters an­ti­so­cial be­hav­iour.

He also noted that the town’s two play­grounds were con­cep­tu­ally dated, with static, un­cre­ative at­trac­tions.

Out­lin­ing the new de­sign for the main park, Mr O’Meara pro­posed restor­ing di­rect view from the lodge to the dis­tillery as a cen­tral com­po­nent, given the his­tor­i­cal rel­e­vance of both build­ings.

The ar­chi­tect fur­ther sug­gested re­lo­ca­tion of the lodge park­ing area to ac­com­mo­date an or­na­men­tal gar­den, ter­raced lawn, rolling meadow, and wood­land seat­ing ar­eas.

The plans also en­vis­age eas­ier ac­cess to the Dun­gour­ney River, a bridge to fa­cil­i­tate looped walks, pic­nic ar­eas, new paths and ac­cess points be­tween the park and sur­round­ing es­tates, and play nodes for nat­u­ral, cre­ative play.

A skate­board park is to be in­stalled in an area to be de­cided.

Re­gard­ing Baby Walk, Mr O’Meara pro­posed a spa­cious en­trance and that river­side walls be re­placed by ter­raced steps. He ad­vo­cated paved ta­bles for traf­fic calm­ing within a ‘shared space’ traf­fic/pedes­trian realm, to fa­cil­i­tate out­door din­ing ar­eas with a strong vis­ual con­nec­tion with the park.

It was de­cided that flood prevention is­sues ap­prox­i­mate to Baby Walk be dis­cussed with the OPW.

In def­er­ence to safety con­cerns sur­round­ing river ac­the cess, Mr O’Meara sug­gested that the present, se­cluded re­gions posed a greater threat to safety.

Se­nior ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Seán O’Cal­laghan stressed the scheme was merely a plan as yet and would pro­ceed in ac­cor­dance with avail­able fund­ing over sev­eral years.

How­ever, he pro­posed that the coun­cil seek to align an ini­tial Baby Walk phase with a ma­jor streetscape plan set to com­mence in early 2018.

Chief district of­fi­cer Joe McCarthy sug­gested the en­tire scheme move to pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion (Part VIII) ac­cord­ingly.

The scheme would see a mod­est area of grass­land and trees trans­formed into a land­scape of lawns, mead­ows, river­side ac­cess, and play ar­eas, with as­so­ci­ated street en­hance­ment.

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