Minister Damien English addressing members of the public this week. Photos: Michelle Ghee.
“Longford is a good place to live but we can make it a superb place to live.”
The overriding thoughts echoed by Longford Municipal District Cathaoirleach Cllr Seamus Butler as he passed judgement on Longford's MAPS (Military Sites As Public Spaces) Integrated Action Plan on Monday.
The initiative follows on from Longford County Council's unique role with the European URBACT programme which aims to bring former military sites likes those at Connolly Barracks back into public use.
Cllr Butler's typically colourful, yet purposeful address came after Regeneration Officer Lorraine O'Connor said the Council were ready to appoint consultants with a view to preparing an urban design and economic framework for its new Camlin Quarter enterprise.
The plan will see local authority chiefs, together with various stakeholders including the Chamber of Commerce and the local community set their sights on reinvigorating 55 acres of land at the lower end of town.
“It is our hope that the framework will develop ideas and proposals for this area including to improve the connectivity throughout the town and propose public realm improvements that will create a more pedestrian friendly environment,”she told those in attendance at Aras an Chontae.
There were insightful appraisals too, from the likes of Department of Housing official Niall Cussen and Town Architect with Mayo County Council Simon Wall.
A similar depiction could also have been levelled in the direction of Maire Henry, of DHB Architects, as she reflected on her own involvement in mapping Waterford's regeneration fortunes.
But it was undeniably the shot across the self supporting bows delivered by Cllr Butler which seemed to strike a chord with many as he focused on what was needed to turn the county town's regeneration hopes into an achievable reality.
“We have made a huge start here today, but what we really want to start talking about is delivery,” he staunchly remarked.
The Fianna Fáíl councillor said Longford was a county which could hark back to a proud tradition of delivery, referencing the inordinate work of the Council's unfinished estates team as a prime example.
Setting targets would be key to transferring those accomplishments to the regeneration arena as he issued a rallying cry for a n all encompassing collaborative focus.
“If you go at it and that’s what we need to do, not just as councillors, as executives and staff in the council but you the people, for us all to get together to make Longford better,” he said.
It is a good place to live, despite it’s failings, but we can make it a superb place to live.”
Executing that ambition is a craving most, if not all Longfordians, share.
Delivering on it is now the challenge all stakeholders must step up to.