ATHY councillors have highlighted their delight about the recent funding allocation of €5,067,941 for the Barrow Blueway project.
The topic came up at the November meeting of Athy Municipal District, where cathaoirleach Mark Wall tabled a motion – given that announcement – seeking that Kildare Co Council outline the next steps in the process and establish a committee from all the interested areas along the Blueway to coordinate “this very positive news”.
A report issued in response to his motion explained that the exciting project will be managed by the Strategic Projects and Public Realm team in collaboration with Waterways Ireland. There will also be a need for substantial input from Into Kildare, the Local Enterprise Office, elected representatives, local communities, businesses, landowners and other relevant stakeholders.
In addition, councillors were informed that once the funding terms and conditions have been received, a project pre-start meeting with Waterways Ireland and Laois Co Council will be arranged to discuss detailed design requirements, project milestones and timelines.
Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Wall acknowledged the funding received and those involved in securing that sum. He noted the reply to his motion but asked what happens next regarding people who have ideas. Cllr Wall explained that the council and elected representatives have a leading role to play and he said that people have been coming forward with business ideas around the Blueway, such as bike hire and B&Bs.
“This can unlock the gem that is south Kildare,” he remarked.
The funding was described as “great news” by cllr Ivan Keatley, who noted the opportunity for Athy with regard to people coming off the Blueway and also raised the need to expand the bicycle network around the area. “It’s a massive opportunity,” he said.
“It’s really exciting news,” was cllr Brian Dooley’s take, and he said that Athy would become a destination either for people starting or finishing the trail.
“There’s a huge positivity in Athy at the moment,” added cllr Aoife Breslin, who said there’s a need to keep the foot on the pedal.
District manager Niall Morrissey thanked the members for their foresight and remarked that there has to be good local discussion forums for people’s ideas. “Exciting times ahead,” he said.