Additional reporting by Kevin O'Neill
Consultants are to be appointed soon to prepare a report on how to open a gate to provide pedestrian access to Cork’s newest public park.
And efforts to deliver another large public park wrapping around Páirc Uí Chaoimh on the eastern fringes of the city have been delayed after issues were identified in the original tender. The news in relation to Tramore Valley Park, off the South Link Rd, and the proposed Marina Park in Ballintemple, emerged at Monday’s meeting of the city council.
Cllr Mick Finn asked the chief executive, Ann Doherty, for an update on council efforts to identify another pedestrian access route to Tramore Valley Park which was officially opened last May.
Developed on the site of the city’s former main landfill, the 180-acre park has been warmly welcomed but City Hall has faced criticism over the lack of pedestrian access to the amenity.
The park’s main entrance is off the South Link Road but is suitable for vehicles only, while there is also a pedestrian and cycle access route from the Douglas side. However, another potential entrance on Half Moon Lane is not in use.
In a written reply to Mr Finn, the city’s head of operations, Valerie O’Sullivan, said traffic management consultants will be appointed in the coming weeks to assess the requirements and the estimated cost involved in providing safe access from Half Moon Lane to the park.
“Depending on the extent of the works and available resources, it is hoped to commence work in December 2019 with a view to opening access to the park from this location in Spring 2020,” she said.
An underground culvert, large enough to walk or cycle through, runs under the South Link Rd, linking the park and ride to the new park. However, the Office of Public Works (OPW) has previously ruled this out as a park access route on health and safety grounds.
Cllr Finn said while he understands peoples' frustrations over the access issue, it is important that it's done right, with expert input.
"I would appeal to people to be patient," he said. "If it was as simple as opening the gate, that would have been done. You must remember that this is not a public access route. It's currently used by council staff and heavy machinery.
"There is also a shared junction with a school. This is about developing a shared public access route for pedestrian and cyclists in a safe way. And we must remember that public liability is a feature to be considered.
"So I would rather this be done properly from the outset."
Meanwhile, council chief executive, Ann Doherty, has revealed another delayed timeline for delivery of the long-awaited Marina Park next to Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
The project was tendered last year but the phase one works were retendered earlier this month. Ms Doherty told Cllr Kieran McCarthy that it was "best to re-tender" after "process items came to light".
Officials now hope to evaluate the tenders in October and award the contract in November. Staff at the parks department said that revised tender documents "take account of the complex nature of the project on a brownfield site".
While it was initially hoped that the park would be open by the end of this year, Ms Doherty said the project is now scheduled to be completed by the last quarter of 2020.
The €15m-€20m project forms a central part of amenities for the docklands area and is on a 22-hectare site on the former Cork Showgrounds land. Mr McCarthy said that residents are frustrated about the delays. It is now six years since the planning notice came before Cork City Council.