The heads of the agreement for the proposed Waterford Crystal Visitor Centre to be located at the former ESB offices on The Mall have been agreed but have yet to be signed.
However, City Manager Michael Walsh assured Councillors at Monday night’s meeting of Waterford City Council that such a signing with Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton (WWRD) is imminent.
When asked if the project is “on track” in terms of its May 2010 timeframe, Mr Walsh said the “programme in the main is due to delivered on time and we’re working aggressively on it at the moment”.
The former ESB building on The Mall, originally designated for decentralised Central Government offices, is set to feature a showroom, retail and restaurant, along with a manufacturing plant in an adjoining building.
A further meeting with WWRD is due to be held next week on the issue, which Mr Walsh will attend.
As part of an ambitious four-year plan to revive the Waterford Crystal brand in the heart of the city, a new iconic building built onto the River Suir on The Quay is also envisaged.
As part of the Council’s Part Eight planning process, Councillors voted to commence the upgrading and extension of the Bolton Street car park to the rear of the former ESB building.
The proposed works will provide for an additional 60 car parking spaces along with 17 additional coaching bays for the tourist buses the Council hopes will return to the city next summer for the traditional ‘Glass’ tour.
A drop-off and set down point is envisaged for coaches at the front of the building, while existing street car parking at Bolton Street shall be removed to ease the flow of vehicles in and out of the expanded car park.
Director of Services Fergus Galvin allayed Councillors’ fears concerning the ease of access for coaches in and out of the car park given its compact nature when set against the facility which accommodated coaches in Kilbarry.
“We will be providing an improved lighting system for the car park and a new CCTV service so as to deter any anti-social behaviour in the area,” he said.
“We need to enhance the visitor centre car park appropriately and I can assure Councillors that whatever plan we come up with it will be as considered as possible.”
Meanwhile, concern over street lights not working in sections of the city, including The Mall itself, were also raised at Monday’s meeting by several Councillors.
Mr Galvin said that transition contract on the city’s lighting system had been signed by the ESB who had transferred the system’s operational maintenance responsibility to Airtricity.
He added that the Council will be going into the market place “in the middle of next year” regarding the long-term contract for the city, with a new contract to be introduced by January 1st 2011.
Concerned Councillors are set to contact Airtricity on the issue, with Cllr Cha O’Neill describing the levels of switched off street lighting as “unreal”.