Residents Have Their Say At Walsh Park Public Meeting

Eoghan Dalton Reports

RESIDENTS supporting the proposed development of Walsh Park say they are in the process of securing a commitment of up to 1,000 car parking spaces through WIT and other groups for match day spectators. Jo Cregan, the organiser of last Wednesday’s public meeting, said there has been a positive response from the groups overseeing the parking facilities at WIT Arena in Carriganore.
She said it would go some way towards providing a structure to bring all residents on side and allow the redevelopment to go ahead.

Group pictured at the top table at last week’s public meeting.

Group pictured at the top table at last week’s public meeting.

“We all want to see the city progressing, to see it developing. To be honest, a month ago I was absolutely adamant that this shouldn’t go ahead. But as I spoke to people I could see they’re not opposing the development of Walsh Park, but they want to see a structure in place,” she said. Her comments came on the back of a contribution by Metropolitan Mayor Joe Kelly (Ind), who recommended a park-and-ride scheme be developed to make transport more viable on match days.
“There’s no handy way of fixing this,” he said, adding that the fields surrounding the city could be rented out by their owners and the GAA could then hire out transport to shuttle people in and out from the park-and-ride fields, while taking the burden off residents.

“To allow this kind of thing to continue where residents can’t get in and out of their house, where people can’t use buggies on footpaths, is shocking”, said Cllr Kelly. Footpath space, parking and traffic management were among the issues raised at the meeting to discuss the proposed development of Walsh Park, though there was plenty of consternation to go around the 200-strong crowd at St Paul’s Parish Community Centre. The plan would see the stadium’s capacity increase from 11,000 to 16,000.Tony Madigan, Chairman of Manor Lawn Residents Association, said the public gathering should have taken place before planning permission was applied for. He added that if there is no new traffic management system in place the new development would be “chaos”.

Waterford GAA County Board Vice Chairman Sean O’Regan admitted to the room that the board does need to look at a new traffic management plan and committed to sitting down and discussing that with Ad Garda Síochána. Sheila Horan, from Belvedere Manor, felt that “the infrastructure is not there” for the development to happen, adding that it the area will become a bottleneck while construction is ongoing. Meanwhile Jim Connors, of St Saviours, said: “What we’re caught for here is space and it’s not fair on the residents. I think we’re trying to do a rush-job and we’ll be caught out with it.”

An image of the proposed new Walsh Park.

An image of the proposed new Walsh Park.

Designer from Horgan Lynch, Niall Fitzgerald, was questioned as to why so few parking spaces are being included in the proposal for the new-look Walsh Park.
He said that, from a planning perspective, it is not encouraged to provide a similar amount of spaces to match the new capacity. “We’ve to try to encourage people to park as far away as possible and walk to the stadium. Putting in spaces would bring people closer and closer to the stadium in their cars,” he continued.

However it was argued that some people travelling to matches there from other counties would have little respect for people’s property and would end up damaging it while others may cause obstructions with their vehicles. In response to this point Joe Cregan said there was a need to “educate spectators” if the redevelopment is to work.
As part of the plan, it is intended that the present stand will be upgraded with seating while the northern terrace on the Griffith Place side will be transformed into an all seater uncovered stand following consultations with residents. The present terrace at the Keane’s Road end will be tiered and covered while at the Ard na Greine end, the terrace will be replaced by an updated office and conference section as well as four modern dressing room facilities with in house parking for buses and cars. Residents have until 6th August to make submissions.

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