It tested the patience of residents and the resilience of traders but the trade-off for Blackrock village after months of inconvenience is a €2m facelift, to be officially unveiled today.
The rejuvenation includes a large pedestrian plaza from which to enjoy the delights of the harbour, although plans for a tiered approach down to the pier were abandoned due to concerns it would, over time, become coated with slime.
What the months of work did achieve, however, was successful exposure of historic tram lines and associated cobbles, previously buried beneath layers of tarmacadam.
Further improvements are in the form of the widening and realignment of Convent Rd and the adjoining section of Blackrock Rd, as well as opening up the vista between the village and the 18th-century Ursuline Convent.
Positive additions around the harbour include a boardwalk, seating area, and access steps. There are also plans to install a playground in the nearby convent grounds.
Lord Mayor Cllr Des Cahill said the successful completion of the project was largely “down to the Blackrock market traders, local businesses, and the public who made it clear that Blackrock village had potential to be further developed”.
“A series of public meetings were held in the village community centre about the future of Blackrock, with the last held eight years ago. The project as it appears now is pretty much the outcome of that public consultation where we sat down and asked the people of Blackrock what they wanted in their community,” said Mr Cahill.
There was a special word of thanks for Cork City Council senior executive engineer John Stapleton who “drove the project from the outset”.
The work was undertaken in two phases as funding became available. Phase 1 was concluded in 2016 and phase 2 has now reached a conclusion.
The overhaul of Blackrock Village and Harbour, designed by Cork City Council’s road design section, financed by the National Transport Authority, and built by Ward & Burke Construction Ltd, has been completed in time for the reopening of the nearby Páirc Uí Chaoimh stadium, scheduled for July 2, following an €80m revamp.
Further ambitious projects are also earmarked for the area, with plans unveiled last week for the development of Marina Park, at a cost of up to €20m, as a sports, adventure, and ecology arena. At 32 acres, it would be five times the size of Fitzgerald Park.
The heart of the development would be the central hall area of the former Munster Showgrounds. A central plaza, composed of natural stone and asphalt, would be used for gatherings and organised events and a children’s water play area will be a central plank of the plan. A sports zone would strive to provide additional boating facilities along the Marina. An outdoor events/performance field is to be situated to the left of the stadium with a capacity to hold 1,800 people.
A more exciting play area for older children will include an adventure play section with treetop walk, high ropes, and small BMX track within the natural wooded areas east of Atlantic Pond.
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