After years of pledges, promises, and missed deadlines, a huge public park in Cork City to rival Dublin’s Phoenix Park is set to open.
Cork City Council has confirmed the 70-hectare Tramore Valley Park will open to the public on May 22 — just two days before local and European elections — as construction work to upgrade the park’s vehicular entrance off the South Link Rd nears completion.
A 2.5km shared-surface looped path around the vast park is to be named after Olympic legend Rob Heffernan, said officials. Heffernan said he was humbled by the decision.
“This is a massive honour for me, to know that, long after I am gone, a legacy of health and fitness at all levels will live on,” said champion race walker.
This is a massive honor for me to know that long after I am gone a legacy of health and fitness at all levels will live on . To have a looped park walk named after me is very humbling and I would sincerelylike to thank @corkcitycouncil #cork #health #Athletics #sport #history https://t.co/p6NAC1Oro3— Rob Heffernan OLY (@RM_Heffernan) April 17, 2019
The park has been developed on the site of the city’s former Kinsale Rd landfill which opened in 1965. An estimated 3m tonnes of rubbish was dumped until landfilling ceased in 2009.
Recycling, composting, timber recovery, and the collection of waste electrical and electronic equipment continue at the civic amenity site.
Over the last decade, the site has undergone a €40m decontamination and remediation process which saw the site capped and landscaped, internal roads and walkways built, new sports pitches laid, a BMX track developed, an outdoor gym built, and a large multi-use event space created which can host circuses or outdoor concerts.
While the park hosted some once-off events in recent years, a range of issues linked to safe access, parking, and full-time staffing prevented its full opening.
In November 2017, councillors ringfenced funding to cover full-time park supervision costs in the hope that the park would open in summer 2018 but the access and parking problems persisted.
Now, with parking provision increased from 150 to some 500 spaces, work to make the existing vehicular entrance wider and safer is almost finished.
A spokesman said it is hoped the difficulties will be forgotten when the park opens.
“This is the biggest park the city has opened,” he said. “It is a magnificent amenity, especially so close to the city. It will be an incredible addition to the city.”
The park, to be managed for the city by the Glen Resource Centre, will open from dawn to dusk, seven days a week.
Options to improve pedestrian access are still under consideration but the use of a culvert under the South Link Rd, linking the park to the Black Ash park and ride site, has been ruled out.
Organisers of special large-scale events on site will also have to prepare event-specific traffic management plans.