Call For Pedestrians Not To Be Overlooked While Chamber Warns On 'Empty Space'
Thursday, 2 March 2017
AS the contentious debate over the proposed pedestrianisation of O'Connor Square rumbles on, Tullamore Chamber of Commerce said it welcomes what it describes as 'some acceptance on the part of Offaly County Council that the issue of adequate parking in O'Connor Square and the wider area is one that needs to be addressed.'
Meanwhile one local, in a letter to the Tribune, said that for too long the plight of the pedestrian has been ignored and the town has suffered as a result.
'The truth is that keeping the square as a carpark is not going to change the modern shopping dynamic, this has been tried and failed,' the letter stressed.
The Chamber of Commerce called on the council to 'go one step further with their revisions'.
A statement from the body outlined:'A Tullamore Chamber submission at "Initial Review" stage stated that the success of the Street Enhancement Scheme would be defined by increased vibrancy in the town centre. We warned that extreme caution must be taken not to engineer empty space and noted that people predominantly arrive to Tullamore by car. We advocated for a square which can be adapted to suit how people wish to use it during normal business hours, compared with after-hours, weekends and special occasions.'
The Chamber called for a zero reduction in short term car parking in the town centre during daytime business hours.
'The views expressed in the submission are consistent with those of the "Save Our Square" campaign. If the fundamental goal of the Street Enhancement Scheme is to increase vibrancy into our town centre, the improved access and parking are two key deliverables,' it stated.
The statement continued: 'Everyone agrees that O'Connor Square is the town's natural gathering point and the aesthetic centrepiece of Tullamore. However, the plans presented to date are narrowly focused and do nothing to move parking out of eyeshot. An alternative access route from Tanyard to High Street which has scope to provide alternative parking out of view has been repeatedly ignored. Similarly, we see no option presented for alternative parking behind the new arts centre on High Street. Why?'
“We shouldn't forget that Tullamore is considered by most to be a good town, which needs a little extra support to fulfil its potential. Visitors from foreign countries regularly admire the breadth of services available to locals. We need to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water. A successful plan will address the requirements of the business people, as well as other stakeholders.'
“Tullamore Chamber is campaigning for Tullamore to retain its designation as a strategic location for growth and investment on the premise that the town has the infrastructure in place to support a population of 35,000. In this context it is counter-productive to reduce the overall number of car parking spaces; we should be aiming to increase total parking in town so we can welcome more people to visit, live and invest here.
Rates increases are in the pipeline for many and this alone could lead to closures. Let's make sure that the Street Enhancement Scheme helps to offset potential for this negative outcome. A scheme which does not do so would represent a golden opportunity missed, and investment squandered.'
Meanwhile one local person is calling for a completely new approach to be taken regarding O'Connor Square.
The person who wishes to remain anonymous stated: 'The plight of the pedestrian has been overlooked for too long and the town has suffered for it, the lack of visitors/ shoppers is obvious. The truth is that keeping the square as a carpark is not going to change the modern shopping dynamic, this has been tried and failed.'
'We need a contemporary and fresh approach to the centre of town. Presently the centre of Tullamore is adapted for the car only and does not encourage the stroll through town, for the tourist, the business person, the shopper, persons in all forms. A large diverse number of people will benefit from this upgrade, young and old, the footpaths will be safer to use with less obstructions, more disability parking and lower footpaths. A very much needed street enhancement and Tullamore must move quickly to encourage people to stay in the town.'
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