Cycleway plan hits right of way stumbling block

Plans for the proposed new Flesk cycleway and walk that will run from Ross Road to Flesk Bridge

A FESTERING war of words over plans to provide a vehicular and pedestrian right of way from Killarney Racecourse on to a proposed new cycleway and walkway along the banks of the River Flesk took a new twist at a meeting of Killarney Municipal District Council on Wednesday.

District Manager, Angela McAllen, said the right of way “at all times, by day and by night, on foot and with motor vehicles and animals for all purposes” was a condition of the sale of the land to the council by Killarney Race Company Ltd and the particulars also included provision to erect four gates at agreed locations to enable emergency access to and from the racecourse.

Residents in the area insist, however, that they were never informed of that condition of sale despite asking the question directly during an initial meeting with a senior council official.

Ms McAllen said the council’s position is that such access is only to be provided in the event of an emergency which, by definition, is a serious, unexpected or dangerous situation requiring immediate action.  

Killarney Municipal District Manager Angela McAllen

“The council has not consented to the use of the access for entry – by vehicle or otherwise – other than in such a circumstance,” the manager stressed.

Ms McAllen said the local authority has also been engaging with other adjoining property owners who have sought pedestrian access onto the cycleway as part of an agreement for temporary access onto their lands to facilitate the reconstruction of a new boundary wall.

“The identification of these accommodation works was not indicated on the drawings put on display for the Part VIII process. This is not uncommon as such details are often agreed with landowners when schemes are near to going to construction,” the manager stated.

As reported by KillarneyToday.com earlier, some residents in Priory Paddocks and Castle Falls, whose properties the cycleway will run alongside, have expressed major concerns about the vehicular access being granted to and from the racecourse on what is essentially a route for cyclists and pedestrians.

The residents have stressed that they wholeheartedly endorse and enthusiastically support the €650,000 project and no objections were voiced within the prescribed public consultation period.

Kerry County Council officials previously acknowledged that eight of the 11 submissions received specifically supported the development and while others sought assurances, no objections were submitted.

Castle Falls Residents’ Association Chairman Frank Doran

Castle Falls Residents’ Association Chairman, Frank Doran, told KillarneyToday.com that when he and other residents previously met with a senior council official to discuss the matter, there was absolutely no mention made of a proposed access road.

Residents only discovered details of that plan by chance on the Friday of the October bank holiday weekend.

“Castle Falls was built in 2002 and the question must be asked what the racecourse has been doing in terms of providing emergency access since then and why it’s considered so important now?” Mr Doran said.

“If a jockey is hurt they are usually airlifted from the course or taken out the gate and up the main road by ambulance so why the sudden need to provide this access? In my opinion, it’s just a smokescreen,” he added.

Mr Doran was anxious to stress that the residents fully support the cycleway and consider it a marvellous facility on their own doorsteps but they question the need for vehicular access to and from the race track.

The land required for the project was purchased from Killarney Race Company Ltd and a private landowner in 2016 and the required public consultation phase concluded in December of 2017.

The route run through the townlands of Woodlawn, Bunrower, Scrahane and Demesne – including a section of the Maurice O’Donoghue Memorial Park – and the proposed works will consist of the construction of a 2.5m wide cycleway and walkway.

The Irish Coast Guard air ambulance landing at Killarney Racecourse

Funding of €450,000 was secured from the Department of Transport for the first phase of the works which involves the demolition of the old stables on a section of lands acquired from Killarney Race Company, the construction of boundary walls, fences and accommodation works and the completion of all earthworks.

The council has advised the department that further funding, of the order of €208,000, will be required in 2021 to complete the project and that phase will include the surfacing of the cycleway, signage and measures to control the usage of the cycleway.

A contractor has been engaged for the first phase of the works which has now commenced.  

One issue that has been highlighted is that Section 68 of the Roads Act, 1993, provides that a cycleway is a public road reserved for the exclusive use of pedal cyclists and pedestrians.

Municipal District Manager, Angela McAllen, said the council is continuing to engage with the adjoining landowners to finalise agreements on the construction of the boundary wall and to clarify the position as outlined.   

Today’s News Today: KillarneyToday.com is the talk of the town with more than 300,000 readers every month and over 26,000 followers on Facebook. To advertise call 087-2229761