DCC Notes June/July

Compiled by Dermot Carmody

Proposed Green Cycle Corridors

Motion To Revisit South Dublin Quietway

A proposal to link South Dublin communities with a pedestrian and cycling route, called the South Dublin Quietway has been voted against by councillors on the South East Area Committee (SEAC) on two previous occasions. Reasons for opposing it previously centered on disputes about the route of such a scheme and the impact on residents affected, as well as concerns about the level of consultation with the public on the project. (Although paradoxically previous votes were in fact against putting the scheme forward to a public consultation stage.)

At the recent meeting of the SEAC on May 10th, Cllr Carolyn Moore (GP) proposed a motion calling for the issue of the South Dublin Quietway to be revisited. She acknowledged as mentioned above that councillors have twice voted against  going to public consultation on proposals for a cycling and pedestrian scheme linking areas in South Dublin, once in 2018 and then in 2019. However, she said that there wasn’t a vote to abandon the plan and that the Department of Environment and Community considers that the scheme would be beneficial to the community. Cllr Moore said that it’s a new term and that there is a new attitude among councillors and government alike to the provision of walking and cycling infrastructure in the city. She said she believes that it’s time to find a sustainable transport infrastructure that links communities on the Southside of Dublin and gives people choice other than travel by car for short journeys between communities.

Response of members of the SEAC to the motion was mixed, with Cllr Mary Freehill (LAB) noting that this was a highly contentious issue in the last council. Cllr Freehill said that a lot of the work on the scheme previously was done ”under the radar” and that it had caused “huge division” in the community. She called Cllr Moore’s motion “far too vague” and said such a plan would need to be laid out precisely in a motion. 
Cllr Mannix Flynn (IND) said he thought there was great merit in the motion, but that it was mishandled at the last council. He agreed with Cllr Freehill that there was controversy about it previously but said it’s something well worth visiting.

Cllr. Claire Byrne (GP) remarked that she “never thought [she’d] see the day Cllr Flynn actually supporting a cycling initiative,” referring to Cllr Flynn’s call for a judicial review into the Strand Road cycle lane. This ignited a heated exchange with Cllr Flynn ojecting strongly to Cllr Byrne’s “smart” remarks. (Cllr Flynn later withdrew these remarks.) Cllr Byrne went on to support the motion, while admitting that it was mishandled previously, saying there was a lot of misinformation and fearmongering at the time that contributed to this by causing opposition within communities. She hoped it would be better handled this time with “more transparency and more real information being circulated.”

Lord Mayor Cllr Hazel Chu, speaking in support of the motion, suggested that with many measures currently being planned, for example, the plans to change traffic on Belmont Avenue, it was an opportunity to look at these in the context of a plan for a Quietway.

Another note of caution was sounded by Cllr Paddy McCartan (FG), who remarked that there was no more contentious issue than the Quietway proposal in the three years of this chairmanship of the SEAC. He agreed with Cllr Freehill that a very specific proposal would be required in order to revisit it. He said the previous proposal managed to alienate local communities.

Cllr Dermot Lacey (LAB) thought that the idea of the Quietway was quite a good idea, but identified two big issues with it. One was the issue of security of back gardens of residences and the other was the way in which Marlborough Road, as he put it, was “just ignored”. Cllr Lacey agreed with others that a more detailed proposal was needed before the idea was supported. He suggested deferring the motion until these details have been worked out, in order to avoid a similar negative outcome to the last time.

Others agreed the motion should be deferred, with Cllr James Geoghan (FG) further suggesting that the department might make a presentation to the next SEAC meeting outlining the former proposal and what the problems with it were. Cllr Anne Feeney (FG) also supported deferral of the motion, saying that “to start with it now without learning some of the lessons from last time would be just setting it up for failure.” Addressing the previous failure to put the scheme forward to public consultation, Cllr Claire O’Connor (FF) said that the Quietway didn’t go ahead because a feasibility study had said it wouldn’t work, and therefore it would be wrong to spend public money on proceeding with it.

The committee agreed to arrange a presentation at the next meeting as suggested by Cllr Geoghan and to note the motion rather than to reject it.

New Cafe And Public Toilets Planed For Sean Moore Park

Christina Todd, Executive Landscape Architect with DCC, gave councillors at the same meeting an outline of plans for a cafe and public toilets in Sean Moore Park, located between the playground and the coastal path. The cafe would be constructed using a 40 foot container and have a serving hatch as well as the potential for indoor seating. Terraced seating outside is also in the proposal. A separate building would house public toilets with baby changing facilities.
The plans were broadly enthusiastically received by councillors. Cllr Lacey recalled proposing a cafe for Herbert Park in conjunction with then-Cllr Eamon Ryan which took 15 years to come about and hoped this might happen quicker, as such cafes have proved their value to the community.

There were a few queries about some details of the proposal. Cllr Flynn, while favouring such developments, said he was “not knocked out” by the use of a 40 foot container. He also questioned the creation of private commercial opportunities in such cafes located beside playgrounds. Cllr Daniel Céitinn (SF) suggested that the council look at the model for operating such cafes to create a more community based enterprise. Cllr Claire Byrne sought reassurance that the operator of the cafe would use only compostable cups and would adhere to incoming rules on single-use plastics. Cllr Carolyn Moore spoke of the need to ensure we don’t inadvertently privatise our public spaces. She said families using the park and playground who want to bring a picnic with them should not feel excluded from using seating provided outside the cafe.

Responding to councillors, Les Moore, Head of Parks & Services at DCC said that council policy is to get local enterprises in to run park cafes and that all operators would have to adhere to highest environmental standards.  Responding to a query from Cllr Byrne, he assured her that the cafe at Sean Moore Park would be connected to mains electricity and not run by diesel generator. He said he hoped to have the cafe in place later this summer.