Parnell Street businesses concerned by the potential implications of the proposed ‘Green Route’ projected to run along the street shouldn’t rush to any conclusions, according to Waterford City Council.
Twenty-eight signatories, the majority of which have commercial interests in the Parnell Street/Mall area, have made their worries known to the City Council regarding the proposed ‘N25 Corridor’ running from Ballinaneesagh to Belmont.
The route, one of two currently being explored by the Council is “designed to provide priority for the efficient movement of passengers by bus”. The Council’s receipt for submissions on the Dunmore Road Green Route closed on April 4th.
However, City Council Transport chief Fergus Galvin told The Munster Express that there are “a number of optional reports that are on the table” concerning the N25 Corridor, including Parnell Street.
When asked if local businesses were right to express concern on the possibility that parking spaces on Parnell Street would be restricted once the area becomes a Green Route, Mr Galvin offered the following reply.
Council ‘has optional reports on the table’
“They’re neither correct nor incorrect at the moment,” he said. “We’re still working on various aspects of the design and there are a number of optional reports on the table. This has yet to be put through the Part Eight process of planning, which would also involve a public consultation process.
“When that comes into play, we will probably hold one or two public information days or nights on whatever proposal will eventually be put before Council. So anyone expressing concern at the moment might just be a little bit premature.”
But with Parnell Street businesses already issuing formal concerns about the potential implications of the proposed changes to City Council, their early intervention could ultimately lead to a mutually acceptable solution.
“Whilst we support any measures to ease traffic flow, it must be considered with practical implications for business and residents in the area affected,” wrote Mark Deevy, Director of Deevy’s which has operated on Parnell Street for 58 years.
In his letter to Waterford City Council, Mr Deevy said that the potential removal of parking outside their premises “could have consequences on the services provided for us for the ambulance departments in the south east”.
Deevy’s have been servicing and repairing vehicles for the South Eastern Health Board/Health Service Executive for over 50 years, along with emergency vehicles manned by the Order of Malta, Waterford Civil Defence and Saint Otteran’s Hospital.
Reduced parking would ‘close our business’
The proposed Green Route, in Mark Deevy’s view would leave his business with no option but “to put (14) staff on protective notice”. He writes bluntly: “It will close our business.”
When informed of Mr Galvin’s remarks, Mr Deevy said that irrespective of when the planning process begins, the practicality of a fully-functional Green Route through the city carries many complications.
“From what I can see, what’s been proposed for Waterford is an attempt to transpose what’s worked well in Dublin,” he said. “This isn’t Dublin. We don’t have the wide streets that permit the Dublin system to work well in Waterford…
“For a bus corridor to work properly, I think what’s needed is a solid bus route running straight down a road, the way it does in Dublin. But what’s been proposed for the Dunmore Road route, for example, looks like a hit and miss solution.”
In his letter, Mark Deevy said that at a time of decreasing commercial footfall, the notion of reducing parking and delivery areas on Parnell Street would represent an anti-business measure from City Hall. In a formal reply on April 10th, the City Council said it would consider the matters Mr Deevy raised in his letter.
Considerable local concern
In another letter to the City Council Vincent O’Toole of Maryland House said that reduced parking “would have serious implications for many shops and offices”.
He added: “We would welcome short term parking to allow customers and residents to come and go to the various businesses and homes.”
Ophthalmic surgeon Patrick Condon told the Council that a ‘Park and Ride’ system, similar to that used during the 2005 Tall Ships Race represented the best option for the route.
He is concerned that potential changes on Parnell Street could “gravely affect not only my practice but also the patients who come to the practice and who require my services here”.
“I do feel however that any alteration to the traffic situation or the public transport system in Waterford should be postponed until the cross over bridge at Grannagh and the new ring road are fully implemented and then a proper traffic survey be carried out with the change in traffic conditions that will naturally occur after all this work is finalised.”
Fergus Galvin said that the plans for the N25 Corridor may not come before City Councillors until the autumn, “depending on how the timescale works out”.
“No definite decisions have yet to be made concerning the second Green Route but when any are made, there shall be ample time made available during which public consultation, submissions and objections can be made.”
The City Council’s Green Route document can be accessed online at: http://www.waterfordcity.ie/documents/notices/green%20routes.pdf