The proposed €30 million revamp of Waterford’s North Quay, which we exclusively reported upon in last week’s edition, has certainly caused a great deal of debate in recent days.
It’s worth stressing that the drawings by Rojo Studio Architects are, at this stage, just that: drawings.
Rarely in the course of any such project does the final, delivered, bricked and mortared product exactly mirror the initial drawings, and one suspects that there may well be another version of this vision floated over the next few months. Time alone will tell on that front.
“Soviet-like” was one description. “Fantastic” was another. “An election gimmick,” stated another online poster. “Long overdue,” typed another of the many who, welcomingly, offered their two cents on the proposal.
What the debate underlined was how passionate a great many of us are to see something delivered on the North Quay. Are we all going to have the same vision? No. Will the end product, if and when it is delivered, be something we all like from an aesthetic perspective? Probably not.
But, now that the site is within the local authority’s ownership, I feel we can be pretty sure that something will, at long last, be done with the site, and I for one will welcome it.
For the past 16 years, I have worked opposite the eyesore on the North Quay/Wharf. It had been a visual blight in this city for my entire working life – and a few more years besides.
For me, the key partner in all of this is Waterford City & County Council because, in Chief Executive Michael Walsh, we have an official who has “the vision thing”.
Proof? Look at the Menapia Building, including the House of Waterford Crystal. Look at the Bishop’s Palace. Look at the Medieval Museum. Look at the Theatre Royal. Look at our flood defences. Mr Walsh’s thread runs through all these projects and Waterford should count itself fortunate to have such a ‘can do’ man at the helm.
As for any Oireachtas member claiming credit for the ultimate delivery of this project? I do not give a monkeys who helps gets this across the line, but isn’t it a source of encouragement to see Paudie Coffey using his relatively brief time as a Minister of State so positively?
Is there more we need? Damn straight there is.
Of course, we cannot forget that we have been here before, during Martin Cullen’s time as Office of Public Works Minister – that bells and whistles model in The Glen was something I peered over many, many times.
The key difference on this occasion? There is no legal inhibitor at play, and the entire site is now under Waterford City & County Council’s ownership.
Last October, Deputy Mayor Jason Murphy said the site constituted “a set of disused buildings and an unkempt area which resembles a relic of Stalinist Eastern Europe”.
The opportunity to dust down this relic, demolish where appropriate and put it to good use, finally appears to be at hand. Surely that’s something worth getting behind?