There’s a lot to be said for community spirit.
Just ask locals and those behind Ballinamuck’s ambitious, yet impressively assembled Area Enhancement Plan.
One of a string of similar initiatives to have surfaced across the county in recent weeks, the scheme aims to identify key areas of local interest identified as being ripe for development.
Involving local body, Longford Community Resources Ltd (LCRL), homeowners were told of how the plan has progressed since public consulation began last September.
“After our suggestion boxes, we had a couple of meetings and got all our ideas together. Since that, we had another meeting where ideas were posted on walls, giving people a chance to select their own personal favourite,” said Paddy Howe, chairman of Ballinamuck Community Enterprise Association.
Mr Howe, who spoke to the Leader moments after last Thursday evening’s public meeting concluded, was one of a handful of contributors to throw their weight behind the plan.
A sample of the various projects earmarked for development could also be seen dotted around the hall.
These included upgrading works for a river walk, re-developing the village’s Mill Dam and addressing ongoing issues surrounding the much protracted Gaigue Cross.
A hot topic of debate in recent months, its mere mention drew a mixture of mild laughter and restrained whispering.
Local Cllr Martin Mulleady, who attended the public forum alongside fellow Fianna Fail representative Cllr Luie McEntire, re-iterated his pledge to work closely with local residents over the coming months.
Another local, Carmel Gill said there was a lot to like about the initiative as she issued a plea to neighbours to support its implementation.
“A lot of people are probably wondering where we go from here,” she said.
“Preparing the plan was the easy part, the hard part is yet to come. That is why we are appealing to people in the Ballinamuck area to come and support this, to weed, plant, paint and help out.”
Asked to respond to some of those questions, LCRL’s Margaret Walsh said the next phase required setting out concrete proposals that could form part of a comprehensive application.
A percentage of monies can be obtained under a joint EU and Department of Environment initiative, €8.7m of which was successfully acquied by LCRL for local projects in 2009.
“That’s where we come in, putting together an application that fits with projects that you are prioritising but also that refers you to other organisations for enhancement projects,” she told an attentive audience.
A series of further meetings are now expected to take place as residents look to identify which projects will be best suited to the project.