Traffic to return to ‘west side’ of Square next month

The west side of the new-look Market Square in Roscommon Town

The west side of the new-look Market Square in Roscommon town is set to reopen to traffic next month.

The meeting of Roscommon Municipal District was informed that a one-way system will operate from the vicinity of the ETL premises to the post office.

Confirmation that vehicles will be permitted on the west side of the Bank of Ireland won’t be welcomed by everybody, but it is consistent with a Part 8 development supported by councillors back in 2019.

However, it is known that some business people in the area have been lobbying for the new-look town centre to strictly remain accessible to pedestrians only.

At last Thursday’s meeting, Director of Services Majella Hunt indicated that the ‘west side’ will be reopened over the coming weeks, probably around “mid-June”.

Ms. Hunt said that while there will be a two-hour parking zone in Roscommon town generally, it will be one-hour on the west side of the Square. There were, she advised, some “minor things to be addressed”, and as “supply and installation is the problem” she felt unable to give a definitive timeline. Ms. Hunt said the Council is working towards the route in question being back open to traffic from around mid-June, although this could be “subject to change.”

Describing it as a “shared space” Ms. Hunt said parking will be limited to areas marked “through paving in the brick, and likewise in the footpaths”. She pledged that the Council will put signage up. Asked if she had concerns on safety grounds (given that cars will be driving/parking in close proximity to the pedestrianised area), Ms. Hunt indicated that she expected qualified drivers to observe the rules.

County councillors present welcomed the assurance that the area will be made accessible to vehicles.

Cllr. Orla Leyden said the “enhanced town centre” is a good news story for the town. She noted that during the consultation phase there had been a realisation at all times that the town had to be “inclusive” and that people had to be able to access the bank, post office, etc. “We can’t leave anyone behind… it is everyone’s town”, she commented.

Noting there will be a one-hour parking zone to the west of the Bank of Ireland (running parallel with Gleeson’s and Regan’s restaurants), Cllr. Leyden said councillors had voted for this in the Part 8 development. She added that there is a “fantastic” pedestrian/civic space at both the front and back of the Bank of Ireland.

Having queried when roadside markings and disability parking signage will be provided, Cllr. Leyden later suggested that it should be possible to get the relevant signage up in the next two weeks as “people are waiting to access the town centre again.”

Cllr. Marty McDermott welcomed confirmation that the ‘west side’ will be opened “soon”. He said people want that area opened “for driving and walking” so there can be access to “the ATM, bank, post office”. Cllr McDermott said the town centre “looks lovely” and noted how Roscommon’s free parking status remains “a massive benefit”.

Cllr. Paschal Fitzmaurice said councillors had put their confidence in the Council executive and it was now time to embrace the new Market Square/ Main Street. It was, he said, “a very positive day” to hear that the ‘west side’ will be reopened. Cllr. Fitzmaurice noted that the route could presumably be closed for special events.

Cllr. Nigel Dineen also welcomed Ms. Hunt’s update, and went on to compliment the Council design team and councillors, adding that feedback from the public has been very positive.

Ms. Hunt said that while there will be a two-hour parking zone in Roscommon generally, it will be one-hour on the west side of the Square. “That means one hour for all”. She confirmed that the west side will be closed off to vehicles on special occasions.

 

The view from local businesses

 

Eamonn Glesson

Glessons, Roscommon

“Firstly, I’d like to make it clear that I think the revamp of the Main Street and Town Square is absolutely fantastic. There has been a hugely positive response.

“As for the issue of traffic being permitted on the west side… well, back in 2019, we would actually have sought some car parking spaces… I suppose Covid happened then, and our experience has been that there is a move towards outdoor dining and more communal areas.

“So, in recent meetings, we’ve been in favour of the area remaining totally pedestrianised. A vehicle is foreign to the new environment. But, having said that, I also understand how older people –for example – need access to the post office.

“I also understand from speaking to people that some traders say they depend on passing traffic stopping and people popping in for ten minutes… these traders have been feeling the effect of the west side being closed off to traffic. I also understand that they (the Council/councillors) are bound by the Part 8 process they took in 2019. I am conscious too that it’s a public area, and everyone’s needs should be taken into account.

“All things considered, I accepted that traffic will be coming back – that they are bound by the Part 8. But I am hopeful that it can be reviewed after we see how it pans out.

“Certainly cars parking on a large scale on the west side is not desirable. It’s a beautiful space as it is, it’s lovely to see children playing there. We are all people watchers… we all like to watch the world go by!”

 

David Regan

Regan’s Gastro Pub & Restaurant

“I feel it would be lovely if the west side could remain open to pedestrians only. I say that now that the project has come out so well. It really looks amazing.

“Everyone has done a great job… the Council, the councillors, everyone involved in obtaining funding.

“Now that we’ve got used to seeing it this way – so beautiful and so pedestrian-friendly – it really would be nice to leave it that way, for walkers, from a safety point of view.

“I do of course realise that people still have to be able to access the post office, and to me that’s the problem… the post office and its location.

“I’d be in favour of a creative approach here… could we use that (post office) building for another reason? Maybe it could be turned into a memorial centre in honour of a famous Roscommon person, in the way they’ve done with the Jackie Clarke Library in Ballina, where they’ve developed a fantastic project. The building is so, so similar (to the Roscommon post office). It would be ideally located… near to the park, the castle, the tourist office. It would attract people to the town for hundreds of years to come.

“I attended a meeting (on this issue) recently and I accept that the councillors feel bound by the Part 8 decision taken in 2019. But when I tell people in the restaurant that traffic is going to be returning on the west side, they are shocked. So I would be hopeful that this can be looked at again (in the short-term future)”.