The local town council says it can’t afford to build a multi-storey facility, estimated to cost €10 million.
Neighbouring Tralee has two multi-storey car parks which are operated by private developers.
Killarney town clerk Michael O’Leary said Killarney Town Council was now “open to the concept” of a private/public partnership to develop a multi-storey car park. The council, however, would first have to come up with proposals before “testing the market” to see if private investors were interested, he added.
A plan by the council, about a decade ago, to provide such a facility in the town centre Glebe car park, with retail units attached, was dropped following objections by local residents.
But problems with traffic congestion and parking have worsened since then, local business people claim.
Twelve years ago, consultants said Killarney needed an extra 800 parking spaces but, according to Labour councillor Sean O’Grady, far more spaces were needed now. Existing car parks in Killarney are used to capacity during the summer.
Fianna Fáil councillor Brian O’Leary said he was unhappy with progress on the issue, saying that, a year ago, he had proposed the council look at the possibility of a multi-storey car park.
“This is something that seems to have been forgotten about, but parking is a vitally important issue for the commercial life of Killarney,” he said.
“The time will come when the town will suffer significantly because of this. People are asking why businesses and shops in the town are failing. I believe inadequate parking facilities is one of the reasons for that.”
Mr O’Leary stressed a multi-storey facility should be located close to the town centre and suitable sites should be identified.
“It was clear last summer that all our existing car parks were fully utilised and there just wasn’t enough parking available,” he said.
“The only way that you can solve the problem is to go up, or down, when providing extra parking.”
Meanwhile, some Killarney traders claim they are losing business because parking spaces in the town’s biggest car park, at New Street, are being taken up by an ice rink and other entertainment facilities for the Christmas period.
Upwards of 30 traders have handed a petition to the town council complaining about a loss of earnings.
Greengrocers Dan and Michael Horan claimed that closing the car park would have a serious impact on their trade at the busiest time of year.
They had to employ extra staff to carry bags of vegetables and potatoes to customers’ cars, they said.