Landowners in consultation zones Can Engage at Any Time with Project Team.
Just under 200 people attended two public information meetings on the Galway to Athlone Cycleway this week hosted by Aisling Dolan, Senator for Roscommon-Galway, proving that community engagement over Zoom is alive and well.
The Fine Gael Senator is backing the North Green Route Number 1 and the Central Blue Route Number 3 through Ballinasloe to make our towns and villages come alive. The Cycleway will eventually create a dedicated 270km Cycleway world class amenity for families, communities and tourists from Dublin to Galway city.
“It’s incredible to see this level of interest in the Cycleway,” said Senator Dolan. “With Level-5 restrictions we couldn’t hold public town hall meetings so zoom calls offered people an option to log online or dial in by phone and learn more about what is happening, ask questions on what a cycleway can bring to their area from the project team. Local public and IFA representatives, community groups, farmers, businesses and families attended with close to 100 attendees each night – it just shows we want a Cycleway in East Galway and Roscommon!”
The format of the meetings included a short videos showcasing towns and villages on each route. “We have so many hidden treasures with such iconic heritage and culture – there is so much to see and do and now is the time to shout out about it. I would encourage everyone to make a submission on why a Cycleway in your area would be a fantastic experience for walkers and cyclists. Having safe places to walk and cycle in rural areas for young families, older people, people with disabilities is vital for our region. Cycling is for all ages and a cycleway will also be accessible to walkers and people with wheelchairs and prams. The general public consultation deadline is the 1st March.”
Cian McGuinness from RPS Consultants, engineers on Galway to Athlone Cycleway project gave an overview on Cycleways at both meetings. The project team based in Ballinasloe also includes engineers from local authorities in Westmeath, Roscommon and Galway. Fintan O’Meara, engineer with Galway County Councils also contributed noting how the ‘Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)’ section on the website www.galwaytoathlonecycleway.com has been recently updated with information on agronomists, land acquisition concerns.
“Stage 2 consultation for the general public closes on 1st March 2021, however, landowners and farmers in the consultation areas can engage with us anytime and we look forward to talking to them. Once lockdown eases and with over six Project Liaison Officers, we will engage directly with the landowners before any final decision is made on a final emerging route corridor” said Fintan O’Meara.
Anne Mitchell, the Galway IFA Representative said: “There are positive benefits of cycleways for the region however we also have to acknowledge farmers and landowners concerns. I appreciated the opportunity to engage with the Cycleway Project Team.”
Senator Dolan said: “Public Liaison Officers will actively engage with landowners once public health guidelines allow. The public consultation areas are a few kilometres wide in areas. Find out how close your land is to a route corridor by entering your Eircode on the interactive map on www.galwaytoathlonecycleway.com. Landowners and farmers can engage at any time with the project team even after the general consultation deadline. By working together by consensus we will make communities in our towns and villages come alive again.”
On Tuesday evening last, Galway County Councillor Albert Dolan from Monivea and many speakers joined the Green Route meeting from Lismany, Ballinasloe, Killure, Ahascragh, Caltra, Castleblakeney, Ballyforan, Mountbellew, Monivea and Athenry. Maura Hannon, Manager of Galway Telework in Mountbellew spoke of the positive engagement and excitement around the potential of a cycleway to local towns and villages. Cllr Albert Dolan said the meetings have proven a very successful alternative to ensure that there is great community engagement on a project of this scale; “By having these meetings, people along the proposed routes have had a chance to engage with the public consultation process and learn about the different routes and the areas they pass through.”
On Wednesday night, people joined from areas close to the Blue Route corridor. Galway County Councillor Timmy Broderick from Kilconnell expressed strong support for the Blue Route. Among the attendees was renowned Irish composer and conductor Eimear Noone who would love to see the Blue Route become a reality – it would potentially connect Athlone to Galway via Cornafulla, West of Shannonbridge, Kylemore, Lismany, Ballinasloe, Aughrim, her village of Kilconnell, Cappataggle, Woodlawn, New Inn, Attymon, Athenry and Oranmore. “East Galway is such an historic area, much of it less celebrated than Ireland’s more famous landmarks and sometimes getting overlooked. Growing up as a child in Kilconnell, I would cycle down the hill into the village, with the awe-inspiring tower of Kilconnell Friary staring me straight in the face. I would love nothing more than to see children from all over Ireland cycling through the village and getting struck by the same sense of imagination-stimulating awe.”
Galway County Councillor Shelly Heterich-Quinn and Galway County Councillor Gabe Cronelly also attended on Wednesday and voiced strong support for the Blue route through Attymon and Athenry. Deputy Denis Naughten attended both sessions and highlighted how it was important for towns to work together.
Senator Dolan said the aim of these online meetings was to
1. Increase awareness of the Cycleway routes and encourage submissions from residents, community groups, schools, clubs & businesses.
2. To encourage landowners to engage with the project team in Ballinasloe
If you would like to get involved then give support by
1) Ask your friends and family to make a submission by returning the questionnaire delivered to houses or by completing the online feedback form at www.galwaytoathlonecycleway.com by deadline 1st March 2021 2) Check out submission guides for businesses and community groups at www.aislingdolan.org
3) Like and share posts and content on social media to increase awareness especially as we can’t meet people. Look up ‘Green Route No.1’, ‘Blue Route No.3’, ‘Athlone to Ballinasloe Greenway’ pages are on Facebook
4) Landowners and farmers in the public consultation red zones on each route (Check Eircode on interactive map) can make contact at any time even after the deadline of 1st March with the project team at firstname.lastname@example.org or call: (091) 509267