After the recent quarterly meeting of the Roscrea Enhancement Committee, it’s Chairperson, Brian king was on hand this week to give some positive updates on many of the projects that feed either directly or indirectly into the plan.
Before giving us the update Brian said he would like to acknowledge the work of the Enhancement Committee members who go about their business quietly and diligently. Brian said it can be frustrating for members at times but that the committee has come to realise that unfortunately very little funding can be put in place unless detailed and professional plans are documented to support funding requests for many projects.
Putting these plans in place takes a lot of time and lobbying as formulating the plans themselves also involve significant costs. With numerous plans completed and new plans in the pipeline Brian King said he is confident that the people of Roscrea and it’s surrounds will start to see the efforts of all this work come to fruition in the not too distant future. In response to questions about Council commitments to Roscrea, Brian king said that he believes that the Council realise that they have to renew their energies and focus on Roscrea. Brian said council officials such as John Jones and Marion Carey who serve on the Enhancement Committee are very committed to helping our town and they need the ongoing support of the elected representatives and all stakeholders really if we are to make serious inroads. Brian said the area faces many additional challenges most notably of course employment opportunities and he encouraged organisations such as the local Chamber of Commerce to keep fighting hard for the establishment of the proposed new Enterprise Centre and to continue fighting for any additional opportunities that may present themselves.
Brian said the focus at present is very much on the Roscrea Traffic Management Plan. Brian said that the plan was on display in Roscrea Library and thankfully the public and local businesses took time to view it. Brian said that the plan is really the catalyst for a lot of future development in the town and plenty of submissions were made to allow the council go away and digest what is now in the best interest of the town. Brian thanked Michael Madden (Chamber Of Commerce) who attended the recent Enhancement Committee meeting and made a number of observations in relation to the plan.
A key deliverable of the Traffic Management Plan will be the redevelopment of market Square. Brian King said that the Enhancement Committee have been assured that money has already been put aside to commence this work most likely in the first quarter of 2018. The work will involve the widening of footpaths, new lights, a roundabout and possible new seating areas in the vicinity of the square. Once that work is completed the Traffic Management Plan will then focus on Castle Street, then Main Street and then the numerous other projects that form part of the overall plan. Brian king said it is interesting listening to planners speak about considerations that must be taken into account when formulating the initial draft plan. These involve the advent of the electric car which will become more mainstream in the very near future, driverless cars which are at a very advanced stage and shared space, a concept which has enhanced towns the length and breadth of the country in recent years and will continue to do so into the future. Age Friendly considerations must also get serious attention as must linkages and the impact the traffic management plan will have on the overall appearance of the town particularly with visitors and consumers in mind.
In relation to Gantly Road Brian King said that preliminarily drawings for the area following extensive public consultation are been put together and funding will be sought to commence delivering upon the plan. When asked about the Plaza area, Brian said that Marion Carey has engaged the youth of Roscrea to help come up with ideas for the development of that key area in the town. The youth will be involved in the preliminary plans for the area and people will be able to give broader views once the plans are available for public consultation. It is envisaged that an application will be made in 2018 for funding through the Town and Village Renewal Scheme. Brian said that part of the brief for any plans for the development of the area will involve plenty of consultation with the relevant property owners.
When asked for an update on the proposed greenways and walking trails which were discussed in the past and in particular the greenway between Roscrea and Birr, Brian King said there was mixed news. Brian said that at the recent Enhancement Meeting those that served on the committee to help push the Roscrea to Birr Greenway said that unfortunately progress could not be made at this stage despite endless hours of meetings and lobbying. Brian King said he watched a television programme recently that featured greenways in Mayo, Waterford and Westmeath and how these greenways had helped breathe new life into the areas where they are located. Brian said he had no doubt that such a route between Roscrea and Birr would have yielded the same benefits. Brian said that the greenway would have not only helped the economics of the area but would also have had huge benefits in terms of social and cultural linkages and development, enormous mental health and wellbeing benefits and would have opened up opportunities for further development such as continuing the trail on further to Clonmacnoise and eventually possibly opening up a pilgrim trail between Monaincha and Clonmacnoise. Brian said as a town Roscrea had every right to be brave and to think big and he remained hopeful the concept of the Greenway between Roscrea and Birr and possibly beyond will be something that might raise it’s head again at some future date. In the meantime Brian said that Cathal McNicholas was examining a number of walking routes in the Roscrea area and if any of those projects come to fruition they will be of enormous benefit to the area and will be a lasting legacy of this generation of Roscrea people.
In relation to Tidy Towns Brian said that Tidy Town members Eileen Doherty and Dick Conroy serve on the Enhancement Committee. Brain said there were many overlapping projects between tidy towns and the enhancement committee. Brian said that without active tidy towns committee in Roscrea we would be in serious trouble. Brian said that the Tidy Towns Committee needs help and needs new volunteers. Brian said that it was his understanding that the Council would look at providing support for a clean up day some Saturday which would be led by the Tidy Towns and would hopefully get more business representatives, clubs and societies involved with the great work that they do. Brian said it was great to hear about the tree project and the river project at the recent Enhancement meeting and agreed with Eileen and Dick that underground wiring was a must throughout the town. The tress project has proved to be extremely positive and Brian congratulated all involved.
In conclusion Brian said it was great to get positive news from Jacinta Rigney (OPW) at the recent Enhancement meeting in terms of visitor numbers to Roscrea and in terms of putting a new initiative in place with the Chamber Of Commerce aimed at encouraging visitors to spend more time in Roscrea. Pamela Aitken from Roscrea Heritage Society outlined a lot of plans for Heritage Week 2017 and said that she hoped that the society would have a program of talks and events lined up for Autumn Winter 2017/2018. There is also positive news on the Roscrea signage strategy which will commence implantation soon and in addition to all that it is likely that a cycle route linking the three roundabouts in Roscrea will be designed as will new paths that will allow people circumnavigate the whole town in a safe and enjoyable manner. In relation to the 2017 Roscrea Enhancement Awards, Brian said that application forms would be available soon, judging would take place in August and that a press release on this year’s awards will be released in the very near future.
All in all Brian king said Roscrea still has enormous challenges to contend with but that local community volunteers continue to work hard and as evidenced at the recent Enhancement Meeting a lot of slow and steady progress is been made on projects and initiatives that in time will yield great benefits to our town.