TWO local authorities have defended allowing a contractor to temporarily take over public car parking spaces in one of the most popular amenity areas on the banks of Lough Derg.
Tipperary County Council has confirmed it gave Coir Infrastructure permission to use a “limited number” of car parking spaces in Ballina Riverside Park to store materials for the essential laying of a sewer from Roolagh to Ballina Wastewater Treatment Plant, as part of enabling works ahead of the River Shannon Crossing project.
Approximately 18 spaces were taken up with sewerage pipes and materials on Sunday, April 18, which was reduced to about eight on Tuesday night after one section was cleared last week.
Six cars were parked indiscriminately on double yellow lines, two cars were blocking vehicular access for emergency vehicles to the riverside walk, and four cars were double parked outside the compound on Sunday.
The council stated any “minor inconvenience caused is regretted but necessary” in the interests of progressing this project and anticipated the contractor will be finished by the end of this week.
Asked why there is no public sign advising people about the length of time these car parking spaces will be removed and the reason for same, the Council replied there is no legal requirement for this as only a few spaces are being closed off for a short time.
Concern about the loss of public car parking spaces has been expressed by Councillor Tony O’Brien in view of the increasing number of people accessing this amenity area, as Covid-19 restrictions ease.
“It is not the right thing to do. We had two weekends of very fine weather where we had bedlam in Killaloe and Ballina in terms of traffic, parking and trying to accommodate visitors in a very safe manner.”
Clare County Council has confirmed these works are part of a €1.2 million Advance Works contract it awarded to Coir Infrastructure last December.
Senior engineer, Seán Lenihan stressed these works are essential and the phasing of same is critical and seasonally dependant, to allow the main works to commence at the earliest juncture following the tender process, which is expected to be published in the next month or so.
“Not every area is suitable for use as storage during construction works,” Mr Lenihan explained.
“Specific site inspections and risk assessments are carried out to ensure the work can be done safely.
“Therefore areas where overhead wires are passing, where underground services are located or where turning movement for trucks and plant is restricted have all to be ruled out in the interest of health and safety.
“Access to the water, the astroturf and the riverside walk were at all times facilitated. While the good weather brought out a lot of additional visitors to the area last week, it is my understanding that there was plenty of available parking in the vicinity of the works.
Mr Lenihan said he is not aware the works affected peoples’ enjoyment of the area and rejected a suggestion the council effectively hampered peoples’ ability to exercise outdoors.
Councillor O’Brien appealed to people not to park on double yellow lines and in front of the barrier near the swimming pool.
He proposed the council should consider employing a traffic warden to tackle indiscriminate parking on yellow boxes and lines in Killaloe and Ballina, particularly during weekends and busy periods. Stressing that all visitors were welcome to visit Killaloe and Ballina, he said this doesn’t mean motorists can park in prohibited areas and noted the gardaí also have a role to play.
By Dan Danaher