Deputy John Deasy has confirmed that a proposed multi-million euro stimulus package for a number of critical projects in Waterford city and county is currently being considered by Government.
“The overall figure amounts to about €21 million, the bulk of which would come from central government and the rest from local authority and possibly EU funding,” he explains. “It’s anything but clear right now whether we will get the entire amount but so far the meetings have gone very well and I’m hopeful that a substantial sum will be made available for projects in Waterford.”
He and a senior deputation from Waterford City and County Council met the Secretary General of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, Robert Watt, and his counterpart in the Department of Finance, Derek Moran, in Dublin in early December.
They presented a case for funding a limited set of focussed investments, which could in turn spur a private capital injection.
One element of the proposed package deals with Waterford city centre, and plans to deliver a unique pedestrian-friendly ‘public realm’ around a glazed-over Apple Market area, putting the district on a par with any micro-city in Europe.
It’s also hoped this could also act as a catalyst for a NAMA-led €30m development of the adjacent Michael Street shopping site.
It’s projected that creating this shopping/tourism hub, freed-up by a new orbital traffic system, could activate hundreds of jobs during construction and in permanent retail/food-drink positions.
Another project being considered for funding is the Déise Greenway cycling and walking route, which could potentially connect Dungarvan, the city and Tramore eventually.
However, Deputy Deasy has cautioned: “Court proceedings are currently in train involving some landowners and no-one can really tell what will happen. Completing this project depends very much on reaching resolution with the parties concerned, though if these difficulties can be overcome it’s recognised that the Greenway has the potential to generate a very significant extra tourism spend here.”
The would-be investment package also includes a targeted intervention in Tramore, spread between the old town centre (the Market Square/Queen St axis), rejuvenating the ‘abandoned’ area around the boating lake, and creating a public transportation hub at the former railway terminus; including restoring the train station building for community use.
Funding is additionally being sought to finish WIT’s stalled Carriganore Arena to 2,000-seater, fully-serviced standard so as to establish it as a regional-scale venue to conferences, expos and entertainment.
Deputy Deasy said: “These are the type of projects identified in the Economic Strategy prepared ahead of last year’s local government merger. Getting these off the ground would help reinforce the rebranding strategy currently underway in Waterford.”
It’s understood Mr Deasy is separately seeking an advance factory for Dungarvan to attract inward investment to the west of the county. He met new IDA Regional Manager Anne-Marie Tierney-Le Roux about this last week.