Tullamore car park looks set to reopen this weekend
A major car park in the centre of Tullamore is on the verge of reopening this weekend which will be welcome news for businesses and shoppers in the town.
The old Texas car park has been closed since August when the extensive site was sold. Since then, parking in the town has become increasingly problematic, particularly at busy times.
The Offaly Express understands that a leasing agreement is on the verge of being signed today between Offaly County Coucil and the owners of the site which would allow it to become operational as a car park from this weekend.
Speaking to the Offaly Express, Cllr John Leahy said that he hoped the car park would be open this weekend. He added that while a decision on how to run and how to charge in the car park had not yet been taken, it was essential that it was reopened 'as soon as possible'.
"Since the car park closed, it has been mayhem for businesses in the town. Businesses have been affected and customers of these businesses are complaining that there are no car parking spaces in Tullamore. When this car park reopens, it will help to alleviate some of the problems, particularly in the run up to Christmas."
Cllr Leahy also confirmed that the council are looking to try and lease other private properties in the town to provide further car parking spaces although he did acknowledge that there was limited available space close to the town centre.
He added that it was a positive to see the town so busy with increased foot-fall for businesses but he did say that unless the parking situation improved, potential shoppers would be inclined to do their shopping in other towns where parking isn't as big an issue.
He commended people who work in the town for keeping spaces free during the day but he also said that if the parking issues in Tullamore did not improve, there might be a need to change the bye-laws for the town.
"I hope we don't get to a point where we need to make all parking in the town either one hour or two hour. There is limited space to put more car parking spaces in Tullamore but we need to get the balance right for people working in the town and their customers to help alleviate the problems."
Permanent fencing was erected around the site in November making it no longer even possible for pedestrians to even use the car park as a way of getting directly from Kilbride Street to William Street and Harbour Street. It has also had a detrimental impact on many businesses located close to the car park.
An application was lodged with Offaly County Council back in 2008 with a developer hoping to turn the site into a 28,000 sq. metre shopping centre, complete with more than 700 underground car parking spaces.