The injection of €150,000 by Waterford City & County Council into the O’Connell Street ‘Cultural Quarter’ project won extensive praise at last Tuesday’s Budget meeting held at City Hall.
Referring to the investment, Council Chief Executive Michael Walsh said O’Connell Street was “the one area that hasn’t, in some respects, got the benefit of investment over the years and we’re working forward to really achieve the full integration of what I call the core city centre and to have it reframed in the short next while, in tandem with the delivery of the North Quays so that we have this juxtaposition of the ‘old city’ of small streets on one side, and a modern new face on the northern side of the river, and that’s our strategic goal. So this investment brings us a little step closer to that.”
Councillor Cha O’Neill (Ind) said successive Councils since 1999 had grown “tired talking about O’Connell Street” and he’s pleased to see the area being lined up for a revamp in the wake of the Viking Triangle and Applemarket developments.
“To me, it’s one of the classic streets of the city and I just want to put this out there to the two hotels that are backing onto O’Connell Street: it’d give us a big help if they improved their entrances onto the street; they can have their front entrances (on The Quay) but to have nice entrances on the back, onto O’Connell Street would be a huge help and a start in what we propose to do down there.”
Cllr Mary Roche (Ind), who saluted the traditional collegiality of Councillors in getting budgets passed and proceeding with projects across the city and county, also threw a suggestion “into the mix” for the Cultural Quarter.
“The Presbyteries (at George’s Street, used for the Waterford Walls launch), or indeed another building in the area – I know we applied for the Presbyteries to be (used as) an arts centre for young people and that was unsuccessful at the time – but it’s my belief, to be honest, that a science museum would be an ideal solution.”
Cllr Roche added: “We already have, in CALMAST out at WIT, the National Centre for the promotion of teaching of science and maths in Ireland and I think it would be a nice confluence of events and partnership perhaps, for which we might be able to attract more funding and indeed there is quite a lot of funding now for the area of science and maths and I think it’s something that might work very well in that area.”
According to Cllr Adam Wyse (FF): “We hear problems all the time about different areas of the town that people don’t like visiting and again, this type of money will go towards fixing that issue.”
Cllr Wyse, referring to the €605,000 increase in rates intake, said it “shows us on paper that business is coming back to Waterford and that people are spending money again”.
Cllr Eddie Mulligan (FF) said he was “delighted” with the Council’s investment, and that he hoped “the money could be used as seed money to actually go after possible EU, national and possibly even private investment to help develop that area”.