THE cost of providing planned new coach-parking facilities in the county town will be more than €76,000, including €32,000 for the installation of a CCTV system.
Plans are underway to convert the lower part of the Friar’s Walk carpark to a coach park. According to figures released by Ennis Town Council, providing the service, which it is hoped will lead to a boost in the tourism economy, will cost €76,612. It is proposed to fund the capital costs of the project from parking levies secured by the council from developments in recent years.
Among the costs involved in the project are €10,000 for the provision of a new bus shelter next to Clare Museum and €3,000 for the removal of the existing pay and display machines and fencing and making good the area.
Figures from town council also show the average monthly loss of parking income as a result of the conversion from car parking to coach parking will be €484.80.
At last week’s meeting of Ennis Town Council, town manager Ger Dollard commented, “It is appreciated that progression of the project would represent a significant investment by Ennis Town Council. However, this is a strategic initiative by the council to attract coach business to the town and must be seen in the wider context of economic benefit to the town area.”
Councillor Johnny Flynn commended the scheme stating it may lead to an increased usage of the facilities at Glór. Councillor Mary Howard asked if the pay and display machines needed to be removed saying, “Could they not be used at a time like the fleadh when more people come to the town?”
Mr Dollard responded the council is confident of the scheme’s long-term potential. “The pay and display machines will be used elsewhere. If the fleadh is in town, I would hope that it would attract coaches.”
Councillor Peter Considine urged that tour operators be consulted, while Councillor Frankie Neylon expressed his belief that the proposal will attract “an amount” of coaches to the town to the benefit of traders.
Councillor Brian Meaney suggested the facility could be used for camper van parking also. “I know there is a risk that this could be abused but if it is done by advanced registration, it could be something that could be worked on,” he said.
He raised the matter of coach drivers finding it difficult to get parking when taxing their vehicle at Clare County Council. He also suggested the local authority car parks be used to alleviate parking difficulties during match days.
Councillor Paul O’Shea added that an electronic billboard welcoming people to Ennis in different languages should be installed.
The new coach park will allow coaches drop off and pick up passengers adjacent to the County Museum building. A bus shelter will be provided at this location to provide cover in adverse weather conditions for passengers awaiting pick-up.
The coach park itself would have a tap facility, to which coach operators could connect a hose for coach-washing purposes. A waste-water disposal facility would also be provided to enable coach operators empty waste-disposal units from the coach.
The overall park would be monitored by CCTV that would be linked to the Glór centre, where drivers would be able to remain for the duration of the passengers’ visit to the town. They would also be able to observe their coach on the CCTV monitors in Glór.
According to Mr Dollard, “It is not proposed, at this point, to provide fencing and barriers at the coach park, given the running radius and traffic movements that would arise. However, this issue will be kept under review and will be revisited in the event that circumstances arise where a barrier system would be warranted.”
The car park has been vacant since the change from long-stay parking to short-stay parking was introduced in 2011. “The revenue loss to the council from car parking charges is minimal,” added Mr Dollard.
It is now proposed to proceed to the next stage of the project, which will involve more detailed discussion with coach operators and the business community.