On behalf of our voluntary board of management we would like to thank the following for making this public park project possible……
The Dept of Environment, Culture and Heritage and Kilkenny Borough Authority (with particular thanks to Director of Community and Enterprise Services – Tony Walsh and Claire Murphy, Stuart Gunning, and Tom Morrissey -Borough Parks Dept.) for acquiring and developing the land as a public park, Martina Comerford and the RAPID programme and Marie Kennedy and the HSE for their generous financial support to build the outdoor ‘Multi-User Games Area’ (M.U.G.A.).
A special thanks to our City Corporation and County Council members and local T.D.s for their many years of support and attendances at public and other meetings and local man, Paddy Doyle for keeping it clean and safe for children, and FAS, for their ten years contribution through our FAS C.E. scheme – and finally…..
…. thank you to the many local families, children and volunteers for their years of campaigning for a better living environment for our families.
Chairperson Pat Brennan.
Brief Outline of the Bregeagh Valley Peoples Park Project (Stage 1) and background to its development
This new 4.4acre public green space park and Multi User Game Area (M.U.G.A.) facility has recently being completed and adjoins the Fr. McGrath Centre’s children playground. The facility is built in the Borough’s oldest and highest density housing estate and one of the most socially marginalised areas in the City –the Butts on the Western edge of Kilkenny City.
This park was developed by the Borough Authority (who invested a seven figure sum to acquire nd develop the land) in partnership with the local family resource centre – The Fr. McGrath Centre -to compensate this local high density community area for the loss of the ancient green space public play areas (The Waterbarrack) lost to City roads in the last thirty years.
This issue came to ahead in the late 1990’s when local families realised that the Borough City plans for the very controversial Inner relief Road would lead to a further loss of green space (having sacrificed 75% of it in 1970 for City Roads) and completely hem in young children in the Butts by surrounding an estate, already struggling to cope with City traffic, with a further road that would isolate the estate and turn it into an island surrounded by moving traffic.
A vigorous community campaign over the last ten years lead to the Borough offer of re zoning adjoining land formerly marked for housing in the West Environs Development Plan as green space for a future public park. 15 acres was zoned for this purpose (Stage 1) with a further 15 -20 acres of adjoining river land being listed in the same plan as a future City Public active and passive park area.
This summer the first stage of this park (4.4acres) was completed to adjoin the already community developed and owned playground and now houses a RAPID and HSE sponsored Municipal Multi-user Games Area at a cost of approx 180K. A further 30K from RAPID to complete a walkway around the existing field was withdrawn earlier this year because of cutbacks leaving the project development at a standstill for the foreseeable future.
Stage 1 –
This development has ‘Stage 1’ as part of its new official name as a reminder to our planners and counsellors of their promise of a wider City park development along the Breagagh River. The 4.4acres acquired are part of a 15 acre lot zoned as green space and play areas for children and families and further adjoining Bregeagh River lands (identified as an area of special environmental significance) have been identified and listed in the new City plan as a possible future second City park.
However, this plan is quite vague and no budgets or commitments have been made to acquire this identified land. The area has also come under tremendous pressure and lobbying from developers and land owners seeking its re zoning to inner City housing development status – a factor concerning our community who fear that developers interests could win out over peoples in any future City plan unless steps are taken to copper fasten the green space proposals.
This new small park, still little more than a field at the moment, has already become a priceless amenity to local children and families and the people of Kilkenny. Its future potential as part of a wider public City park brings great hope that future City plans will have learnt the lesson of the Celtic Tiger years and poor and pressured decision making processes that affect all the families of our City.
The recent decision by an Bord Pleanala to reject the Kilkenny Inner Relief Road and Western Environs plan and to send our officials back to their drawing boards gives us hope that serious consideration will now be given to our proposals for a second City park in the West environs area – that all future housing developments and their resident families would border and could have access to.
The economic downturn that has taken the pressure off of the price of land in this area now provides the Borough with an opportunity to strengthen the zoning of green space in this river area and start to acquire the lands needed to create this future people’s river park.
The Bregeagh River area is the site of the earliest human and monastic settlements in Kilkenny and is a priceless future amenity for all Irish citizens. This beautiful wooded parkland deserves to have as much of it preserved from urban development as possible so that it may be maintained as a green space amenity and public asset for as many generations to come.