Human nature being what it is we are quick to complain but rarely take the trouble to comment if something is particularly good. This natural lean toward the negative is a common trait of bad management in all walks of life. In every industry and sector you will find supervisors, managers and bosses who never take the time to tell a staff member how well they are doing, but if they make a mistake they are hauled into the office immediately. Often a ‘call into the office’ is an immediate trigger of dread. We live in a world that is negatively programmed and in turn we tend to expect it.
When I look around I can see as many faults as the next person but I also try to consciously look for the good. Driving through Clonmel recently on my way to Cashel I realised how Waterford City and County Councils do a much better job of public landscaping than their Tipp counterparts. Entering Clonmel from Waterford you can’t help but notice the overgrown, unkempt state of the roundabouts and roadsides. It gives a general air that nobody cares. In Waterford, somebody, somewhere cares and our city and county look all the better for it. Dungarvan is a particular case in point. If you haven’t been there for a while there is a beautiful new park and the general look of the area is a credit to the town gardener. New amenities have appeared, in particular a new children’s playground that even has the innovative idea of adult exercise machines. In Waterford the People’s Park is also looking really well thanks to the city landscape department and has a well designed and much used children’s play area. Plus the addition of the café at the entrance has been transformative. With an outside seating area and a simple open ice cream bar to the side, the café at the park is a great place for a recharge during the day. (In fact I can’t understand how more designated outside seating areas aren’t encouraged in the pedestrian areas in the centre of the city, particularly in the summer.)
On the outer ring road the grass by the paths is well kept and the roundabouts are being maintained with a very successful business sponsorship initiative. For months now I’ve been watching the steady progress of the life size car being formed with plants and grass on the Gerry Kennedy Crash Repairs sponsored roundabout. All these small things make a tremendous difference to the overall aesthetic of the city and county and it tells its own positive story. I also love the latest addition to Upthedeise.com; a dedicated space for new ideas to make the city better. It’s called Waterford Bright Ideas and you can access it through the Up the Deise website or just google Waterford Bright Ideas and you’ll find it easily enough. It’s very user friendly and easy to add to. Hopefully the powers that be will dip in and out of it and take on board the gems that are sure to appear.
Generally I think we are very fortunate, but like everything there are still a few small blots on the landscape that sometimes tend to overshadow all the good work.
The poorly executed graffiti is really inexcusable as Waterford is home to one of the Country’s better graffiti removal services. Anti Graffiti Systems Ireland happens to be a Waterford owned business with a 24 hour response line. Sad to say that at present one of the first walls you see as you enter the Waterford motor mile on the N25 coming from the Cork side, bears the announcement that “X sells herion”. I assume that ‘X’ is a purveyor of illegal substances and is actually selling heroin. A visitor to the city will not only believe we have a drug problem, but illiteracy issues as well. There is also some pretty nonsensical tagging on one of the flyovers on the Ring Road. Unfortunately we have yet to see a Waterford Banksy emerge and until then there should be a simple local number or website where the public can report graffiti. Quick removal has been proven in other countries to deter and in some cases stop the problem entirely. It was one of the policies employed on the subway trains in New York during the clean up of the late nineties. As soon as graffiti appeared on a train carriage it was decommissioned and cleaned immediately.
Eventually the vandals got tired of having their work constantly erased and there was a distinct drop in the frequency of it happening. As an art form graffiti has a place but as mindless, untalented tagging and destruction of property it should be dealt with swiftly.
On another note a friend of mine was in the People’s Park one afternoon last week. At around 4pm a group of young-ish men took up residence in the bandstand with a slab of beer and some bottles of spirits. While they were relatively non threatening and weren’t bothering anyone as such, their presence with that amount of alcohol in the middle of the day certainly sent out the wrong message. My friend left shortly after that as while he didn’t feel in any particular danger, the sun had gone in and some hooded youths had joined the drinkers and the atmosphere was no longer appealing. Why don’t we have a designated force of Park security? Many people use and enjoy the park and they should be able to do it safely. While some will say that we can’t afford the cost of proper policing of the park, I say we can’t afford to lose such a lovely amenity to a small minority of idiots or to risk unpleasant incidents.
There is also the cost to the local Gardai. Every time someone reports an incident from the Park uniformed Gardai have to attend. By having a proper presence many incidents would be prevented from happening in the first place. Interestingly on the City Council’s website it says, “The People’s Park, located at the junction of William Street and the Park Road offers a sylvan refuge to the visitor and citizen alike. This 19th century park has leisurely paths to walk, relaxing seating areas and plenty of green areas in which to wander. A recent addition has been the very popular children’s play area. The artistic water feature is definitely worth viewing, particularly at dusk.” If a culture of afternoon drinking in the bandstand is allowed to continue should we really be encouraging anyone to visit the park at dusk?
Overall both the City and County Councils are doing a good job and credit where credit is due, but with a few small changes here and there it could be even better.