Major new urban scheme unveiled in Letterkenny
A major new urban regeneration scheme, costing over 1.3 million euro, has paved the way for the future economic development of Letterkenny.
Speakers at the official launch of the project yesterday all identified a significant boost for the town's Main Street and its business community.
Donegal County Council Manager, Seamus Neely, said it would help transform the centre of Letterkenny into a vibrant commercial area.
The scheme includes high quality paved footpaths from the Courthouse junction to the Market Square; pedestrian crossings, cycle parking features, loading and parking bays; and decorative street furniture and landscaping.
"These measure from Phase 1 of an interconnected strategy will transform the traditional town centre of Letterenny and promote the emergence of a vibrant, economically active and prosperous area.
"By directing traffic to the nearby car parks, the Main Street will become a more people friendly space which will be conducive to a better shopping experience, thereby promoting the economic development of the town," said the County Manager.
The project involves the regeneration of streetscapes and areas in the heart of the gateway town of Letterkenny which, Mr. Neely pointed out, would completely alter the aesthetics of the area from an environmental perspective.
There were tributes to the all involved in the scheme including both the Town Council and Donegal County Council along with the designers, contractors, workmen and the local Chamber.
Unveiling the specially mounted plaque at yesterday's official opening, Town Mayor councillor Tadhg Culbert described the "excellent vision and planning" which had gone into the project and acknowledged the cooperation with the business community in pushing it along. He voiced the hope that it would form an important part of the town's 400 birthday celebrations next year.
Donegal Mayor, clr. Cora Harvey said the job had been completed in time and on budget and had transformed the centre of the town into a family friendly environment. Letterkenny offered a shopping experience that surpassed many other urban centres for variety of choice.
President of Letterkenny Chamber, Paul Byrne said it was "fantastic" to see investment in the town at a time when money was scarce. It was important to have a Main Street area that was "vibrant, visually appealing and easy to use", he added, pointing to the excellent relationship that existed between the Chamber and the Town Council.
The County Manager also acknowledged the pro-active stance undertaken by the Chamber in relation to the town's development.
Meanwhile the Chief Executive of the Letterkenny Chamber Toni Forrester said there is anecdotal evidence that trade is better than during the same period last year. She said some of the bigger stores in the town have reported improved trading figures during the earlier part of the year and the signs are that the trend is continuing as Christmas approaches.
The severe winter weather over the last two weeks has probably deterred some shoppers from travelling far, she said.
She said a recent report on TV3 that the difference in crossing the border to shop was negligible has been helpful.
"Prices here have been going down while they have been increasing in the North," she said. "There are still some goods that we would like to see cheaper, like alcohol, but if people did their grocery shopping in their local town that would be helpful. There is definitely value here and prices are good."
However, in Donegal Town, the local chamber says trade in the run-in to Christmas has been slow so far.
Donegal Town butcher and vice-chair of the community chamber, Eran McGettigan, said trade in the town has been slow but it was hoped that this could be attributed to the bad weather.
"It did pick up a bit over the weekend and the orders are coming in but they are well down on last year. That is the experience of other traders in the town too, that trade is slow. There is a trend for value rather than quality this year."
However, he said, it appeared that shoppers are not crossing the border to the same extent as they have done in the past. "People do like to go for a day out shopping at Christmas. It's the everyday shopping that we would be worried about. That is the shopping we need to support the local businesses and the local economy and I don't think there is as much of that as there was last year."
Letterkenny Town Mayor Cllr Tadhg Culbert who officially opened the refurbished Letterkenny Main St yesterday, pictured with Garda Ian Oates and Trisha McMonagle from the Cottage Bar. Photo By Brian Mc Daid.1412bd89
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