A proposed streetscape can provide a ‘missing heart’ for Shannon and lead to more businesses setting up in the town.
On Tuesday, Cllr Mike McKee proposed at a meeting of the Shannon Municipal District that councillors meet senior officials in the planning department “to agree a strategy to progress a potential streetscape within the town. This is to be seen as a priority for all”. Brian McCarthy in his reply stated an allocation was made for funding of the development for a strategic masterplan for Shannon in September of last year. The senior planner confirmed the Council has requested a meeting with the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government to discuss the scope of such a plan and that it will be viewed “as a priority for the Economic Directorate and Clare County Council in 2019”.
“When I was moving to Shannon the movers said to me it was all housing estates, forty years later it’s still all housing estates”, Cllr McKee said. The Sinn Féin councillor maintained Brú na Síonna was the only street in Shannon, referencing the reply he clarified that he was not focusing on one facility, “Shannon needs to be developed into a town”.
On Monday evening, McKee watched a documentary on Martin Luther King Jr and he borrowed the infamous line of the civil rights activist when speaking in the Shannon MD offices. “I have a dream, for Shannon to have a town with streetscapes. Our town closes at 8pm every night, let’s grab the bull by the horns”.
Cathaoirleach of the MD, Cllr Gerry Flynn seconded the motion. “I’m hoping the dream comes through for you. The people who said it’s a quantum of building estates are right”. He suggested the library road in Tullyvarraga or the road leading through the Kincora Apartments as possible locations for the street.
Fianna Fáil’s Cathal Crowe who is the youngest elected representative in the MD recalled his time playing the video game SimCity during his teenage years. “I played SimCity as a teenager, you failed in the game if the town wasn’t evolving”. He believed that the Airport, Industrial Estates and Greenways were all positive aspects but highlighted, “the failure is the commercial side”. “If you could play SimCity to dismantle SkyCourt it would help, Limerick has the beautiful Crescent Shopping Centre but no footfall to the city centre. The winding down of the food court in Sky Court spelt a lot for me”.
Cllr Pat McMahon who did not play SimCity during his youth, recalled “Shannon was to be a new town and take away from the people of all over Ireland when it was built, it hasn’t”. The Newmarket-on-Fergus councillor continued, “You often hear that there is no heart in Shannon, how to turn that around will be difficult”.
“As long as I’m on the Council we’ve been talking about a street in Shannon”, Fine Gael’s John Crowe commented. “I’ve been living on the side of the street all my life, it is the heart of the community, you can walk outside at any time and you will either meet people and start talking or else see dogs scratching. A lot of houses have been built in Sixmilebridge and Newmarket-on-Fergus but we had the heart before they went in”. The shop-owner continued, “Pick the street, then one or two businesses will come in. This will be the opportunity for the people of Shannon to build their own street”.
According to Council Director, Liam Conneally, “The assistance of people that own the streets in Shannon is paramount” to the success of such a proposal.