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Residents oppose Greenway bridge plan

De Facto

Residents oppose Greenway bridge plan


The Greenway project has brought great joy and not a little economic comfort to many families from Westport to Achill. The current Government has not been slow to act to ensure that the dots are being properly connected to move the project from one phase to another.
Take a bow (former Cllr) Peter Flynn who flew the original Greenway idea. That was when good ideas underwent ‘political cleansing’ before they were disregarded by smaller minds who held the power but not the vision.
The claws of time have wrought political change and a semblance of common sense on such matters. Add in a few clear Mayo County Council heads and a cheque book waving vociferous and happy Minister Michael Ring. The result is 42 kilometres of green and red bedecked bliss, a walker and cyclist heaven.
Bicycles abound. Signposts re-armed. Tourists aplenty. Local smiles echo Van Morrison’s ‘Coney Island’ - “Wouldn’t it be great if it was like this all the time?”
All success is based on balance. The Greenway is no exception. The danger is that the balance shifts - the wrong way. This is the threat from a current proposal from the body formerly known as Westport Town Council.
There is a Mayo County Council plan to construct a bridge over the Carrowbeg River from the Leisure Park (James Street) to St Mary’s Crescent near Mac Bride Community Nursing Unit Home (Mac Bride Home to local people). The bridge will link up the Greenway from the Pinewoods/Lidl to the Leisure Park.
It will enable residents to walk/cycle to James Street quicker than at present, according to a council official!
A similar proposal in 1996 caused deep frustration to residents who had to spell it out in simple terms to a dogged Council to remove the bridge or it would be removed for them. It was not a threat but rather an attempt by younger residents to protect older residents from noise nuisance and unsocial behaviour. One does not want to repeat such an experience.
The issues of concern are: the bridge will cross the river beside Mac Bride Home, a home for the elderly; the proposal will have a negative impact on residents of St Mary’s Crescent; the Greenway will be routed across the Green in front of St Mary’s Crescent, splitting one of the last green areas in the town, currently used for games by residents and visitors.
The Green was called the Muck before it was ‘reclaimed’ by voluntary work from residents;
The proposed Greenway is routed between the bottom and top blocks of St Mary’s Crescent, currently too narrow for two cars, yet will be expected to facilitate cyclists and walkers. This will create a traffic hazard, like the new Towers/Asgard junction.
There are also questions: Council employees knew about the bridge/Greenway proposal last year yet its plan was delayed until Westport Town Council was dissolved. Why?
Why were some people who live in the vicinity of the Leisure Park neither advised of nor invited to a recent ‘open evening’ on the proposal in the Leisure Park?
Those of us in journalism are well used to dealing with cynicism but some of the responses to genuine questions by concerned residents and locals at the ‘open evening’ were beyond belief.
A Greenway extension is also proposed through Westport House Estate. Why not use the Church Lane (Street) route to link it to the Leisure Centre? The bridge linking Westport House with Hotel Westport could also be reopened and linked with Pinewoods/Lidl via New Road.
Why not route Greenway travellers from the Pinewoods/Lidl to the Newport Road? The Newport Road junction has to be dealt with anyway so do it now and resolve current tailback issues.
Is there no ‘cross over spend’ between Smarter Travel money and other projects? Is that why the Newport Road/Mall junction footpath has been ripped up all summer?
The Greenway is the legacy of great public servants who served Mayo in mind and deed. It does not need to be compromised by some of these new proposals.