OPW must further extend public consultation time on Phoenix Park Plans and engage with local community
Dublin West TD Joan Burton has objected to the extraordinarily brief time allocated for the public consultation for the Phoenix Park Visitor Strategic Review and the limited opportunity for local committees and residents to fully view a document of such length and importance.
Deputy Burton regards the Park as a precious amenity and says the Government must remain very vigilant about development proposals such as those contained in the current Strategic Review.
Deputy Burton said
“At the outset, I have to object to the extraordinarily brief time allocated for the public consultation and the limited opportunity for local committees and residents to fully view a document of such length and importance. Even at this stage I urge that a series of town hall type meetings be convened to fully explain the suggestions made in the document.
“I further suggest that copies of this document be placed in libraries and community centres in the areas surrounding the park.
“A number of initiatives are already underway in the Park which have my support. One of these is the rehabilitation of the Magazine Fort, and another is the competition announced by the OPW to design a pedestrian/cycle link to the National War Memorial Gardens at Islandbridge. These should proceed as soon as possible as they would undoubtedly be of immense value in their own right and deserve adequate funding to enable completion. I do not think that a spate of studies and reviews should be an excuse for delaying these important projects.
“I have some serious misgivings at the repeated emphasis on retail facilities in the document as part of the visitor experience. I may add that I doubt if there would be much public support for any proposal to develop a large restaurant type outlet
“Large scale retail and catering facilities would seriously change the character of the Park and would be entirely contrary to the sense of peace and tranquillity that people love about the Park.
“I also have considerable reservations about the inclusion of Fáilte Ireland as a designated stakeholder. Of course, it is right and proper that tourism interests be consulted and their suggestions examined with respect. That is quite different to having the status of stakeholder with an elevated sense of control and veto. Young tourists and international students flock to the Park at present and clearly love the experience. A change to the Park’s existing character could well undermine the very thing that attracts them.”