by Ronan Casey
A proposal for a new town park featuring playgrounds, comm-unity pitches and other recreation amenities on the western side of Mullingar is to be bridged at Council level.
As revealed in Topic some weeks ago, Cllr. Andrew Duncan says the massively developed western side of town, a large area from the hospital to the canal encompassing new estates and existing developments, has been all but forgotten about when it comes to recreation amenities. A new park, located on both sides of the canal from the former Grange Motors to the Clonmore Bridge would change that.
Unlike other counties where planners ensured facilities were stitched into big estate plans, large developments in Mullingar over the past 20 years featured no playgrounds, pitches or parks, just medium-sized green areas, or unusually-shaped strips of land which fulfilled the ‘open space’ planning criteria in vogue at the time.
Cllr Duncan feels that a large tract of Council-owned land either side of the canal would make an ideal people’s park, and would give the western side of town a focal point, or a place to relax, play and exercise.
It would also have the advantage of being one of the first things cyclists along the proposed greenway corridor between Mullingar and Athlone see when they arrive in the county capital.
At the next monthly meeting of the Council later this month, the matter is to be officially raised with a question from Cllr Duncan calling on the Council to look into the cost factors associated with such a park – primarily a pedestrian bridge which would link the lands either side of the canal.
“If we don’t look into this now, this land will be only suitable for ponies,” commented Cllr Duncan. “This motion at the next meeting will hopefully start the process on this, as there is very few things for children and families to do on this side of town.”
Meanwhile, in the same area, Cllr Ken Glynn says that he is determined to see the Council and Waterways Ireland work together to surface a large length of canal path which among the most popular walking areas in Mullingar.
The length of line starting close to the Newbrook Nursing Home at Grange South and running all the way to Kilpatrick Bridge is among the most-walked stretches of waterway in the county, popular with the huge amount of residents who live nearby. However, unlike the other harder-to-access side of the canal, it is not surfaced to a high degree and floods in poor weather and is in poor condition otherwise.
Cllr Glynn wants it surfaced and will raise the matter officially for the fifth time at official level at next Monday’s Mullingar municipal area Council meeting. He says that after many months of hearing the matter “being passed from Billy to Jack,” it’s time for the Council and Waterways Ireland to work together to resurface the canal, and to make official a man-made opening onto the canal in a hedge along the main Mullingar-Athlone Road.
“In fairness I’ve been talking to both parties and they are trying their best, but it’s time the right job was done,” commented Cllr. Glynn.