As far as most Irish are concerned, Spring has sprung once more, and hopes for a progressive year in Waterford and across the region are building.
News broke last week of a proposed leisure facility development in Ballybeg on a site adjoining Tesco. This represents the most positive news the area has received in quite some time and was a timely contrast from the violent events at Ardmore Park which we reported upon last week.
Behind the scenes noises from a host of sources have assured us and other local media that the required Government funding for the North Quay development will be delivered. We has hoped for an announcement before now, but it would appear that patience is required from all vested interests on that front. However, we would welcome some concrete comment from the Government on this matter.
Speaking of concrete, as part of the project, the Hennebique Building will be demolished, meaning the last physical remnant of our proud port’s industrial past shall soon be removed, a decision which has elicited mixed emotions, particularly on social media. But the unanimous vote reached by Councillors last week on its future suggests the case for retaining the building needed to hold more heft than the grain the building traditionally stored.
In an ideal world, the Hennebique would be retained but the changes required to give it life again would, in all likelihood, distort it so much from its original guise that one would in effect be left with a radically altered and expensively refurbished building.
Elsewhere, the feedback from last week’s Holiday World Expo held at Dublin’s RDS proved particularly positive when it came to promoting Waterford, with the Greenway leading the way on that front.
The Greenway’s birth was not easy and took a great many years to reach and we understand a similar scenario is now being encountered in several other parts of the country at present.
We hope the New Ross to Waterford link through South Kilkenny will proceed without too much in the way of the resistance, as it would prove a welcome addition to our region’s infrastructure. The delivery of the Blueway between Carrick-on-Suir and Clonmel later this year will prove another positive step forward in terms of cycle-based and leisure tourism.
Promoting Waterford in a more vocal and visual manner is something City & County Council CEO Michael Walsh has repeatedly extolled and his office has made great strides in this respect. When discussing this matter with the local retail and hospitality industry, Mr Walsh declared that “we need to raise our game”, adding that we should take into account how successfully Killarney has marketed itself for many years.
And he stressed the importance of good customer service, and how the restaurant/shop floor staffer comes with a semi-ambassadorial brief given that such interaction between tourist and staffer may be the first discourse a visitor to our city has.
While the Purple Flag initiative has sought to promote Waterford as a safe night-time destination, which it overwhelmingly is, dark clouds unfortunately appear in our city from time to time, as the videoed scuffle on John Roberts Square demonstrated.
However, suggesting that Waterford is ‘Dodge City’ represents a gross distortion of reality and anyone that does so is not acting in this city and county’s best interest.
As a city centre business ourselves, we nonetheless hope that there will be an enhanced and more visible Garda presence on our streets throughout 2018.