A new western park in Kerry’s county town will be “a quality site” and will not be rushed.
However, one of the first constructions for the Island of Geese site in Tralee is likely to be a tall glass spire, according to plans unveiled.
Apart from a tall red brick chimney stack smack in the centre, the 2.3-acre derelict former Denny Bacon factory site has been completely cleared.
In Medieval times, it was a market and chancel place near the 1866-built Dominican Church.
Rob Keane of Reddy Architecture +Urbanism said the history of the walled site pointed to it as being always associated with urban development: the remaining chimney had dated to 1900 and the Edwardian period when Tralee was a hive of bacon factories, mills and activity.
“The retention of the chimney is, therefore, an important aspect,” he said.
The tall brick chimney, it emerged, will be topped with a glass lit-up spire to tower over other buildings and become a focal point for the western side of Tralee. However, whether it will be as tall as church spires on the eastern side of Tralee has yet to be decided.
Overall, 14,000sq metres of space, either commercial retail or residential, will be developed, the county council’s town manager Michael Scannell. “We want it to become part of Tralee, not a separate site,” he said.
It could open up new pathways between the Bons Secours Hospital and the town centre and bring the hospital “into the town”.
However, the council had to be realistic Mr Scannell said, emphasising it was a long-term project, focusing on quality and there would have to be investment from the private sector.
Mayor of Tralee Graham Spring said the plans unveiled were a first step and proposals will go on public display. About 800 people had previously made submissions. “The people of Tralee have been highly involved to date. I’d like them to stay involved,” he said.
Mr Scannell also said some submissions pointed to people wanting to move back into the town centre which was a shift from previous generations who had moved out.
He pointed to Georgian and Victorian buildings of Denny Street being revamped for residential use, as part of the regeneration, and the focus in Tralee now was “once more, making it a place to live”.
A reported €3m has been earmarked so far for the Island of Geese, including €1.5m from the European Regional Funding for a three-year programme of works. Kerry Co Council is committed to providing the remainder where €800,000 has already been spent.
Meanwhile, in a separate project, the county town has become a centre of public services in Kerry and has been rebranded in an effort to attract businesses.
Former Tánaiste Dick Spring has been appointed a business ambassador for his home town’s new T brand.
The flowing T in strong colours symbolises the Lee River on which the town, metres from the sea, is meant to reflect how the busy county town where most public services are located, from county council buildings to third-level college to courthouse, is surrounded by mountains river and sea.
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