This is just a brief up-date of a meeting we had on Thursday 17th May 2012 with Cork City Council and the OKRA Landscape Architects they have appointed to carry out the design of the proposed Marina Park.
The meeting was one of a number they had undertaken with various groups on the day who live in the immediate vicinity of the Marina and the proposed Marina Park.
At the outset it is worth saying that the project team’s willingness to engage with what you might call the ‘stakeholders’ was evident and this made a refreshing change to what we had experienced in relation to the whole sell-off of lands/re-zoning process where it was a real case of ‘their way or the highway’. That said, we were a bit wary that their version of consultation might just be a case of listen-nod-sympathise-ignore as is often the case when it comes to public consultation. We made this fear known to them.
The project group told us that this meeting would be followed up by a wider consultation with a broader section of the community. We thought that this was a good idea as the more they understand about how people (both the immediate residents and the wider community) use the existing areas and how they want the areas developed to meet their needs, both now and in the future, the more acceptable will be their proposals.
Two of our local councillors attended the meeting as well; Cllr. Des Cahill (FG) and Cllr. Denis O’Flynn.
There wasn’t much in the way of detailed plans and all OKRA had to display were their conceptual designs (the ones they’d sketched up in their bid to win the work). These are the drawings that were recently featured on this site and were shown in the Evening Echo. We emphasised that the blatant lack of an open space in these drawings where a family or friends could picnic, puck a ball, throw a Frisbee, fly a kite or just sit about and read under our rarely seen sunny skies was not acceptable to us.
If you’ve seen this conceptual drawing you can see that the overall flow of the proposed park is interrupted by the ‘second GAA pitch’ – the all weather centre of excellence as it’s now being referred to. The drawing was broken down into layers so you could see the areas that would be used for wetlands, for flood management, for activities, for cultural events and so forth. All very nice and soft-focus. One thing that caught our eye was that the only activity spaces were the two GAA pitches: Páirc Uí Chaoimh and the all weather pitch. Both to be fenced off from public access.
This angered us as we felt that every other species, plant and animal, was being included in the conceptual design but the upright, two legged species, the people of the city, were being given no space to exercise or play with their children. The project team told us that the brief they had required that they include this in the design. This was part of our problem with the whole process.
The Council have issued a brief for this work prior to the re-zoning vote and prior to any grant of planning permission that specifically includes the all-weather pitch in this location. A real case of cart before the horse.
To be fair, the project team acknowledged this point and conceded that this was something they could do nothing about. They accepted that the only people who could influence the location of the second pitch were the residents and others who could object through the planning process.
Or the GAA could seek some sort of compromise on the location of this pitch that would allow the proposed park to reach it’s full potential and to allow the GAA to still keep their centre of excellence.
We had some general discussions about the proposed bridge next to the Páirc (something that will take decades to build, if it ever gets built), the water quality in the Atlantic Pond and the phasing of the works.
We concluded by telling them that we thought the engagement was positive and that we would welcome the opportunity to consult with them as much as possible in the future. I think the description we used was that we would travel with them for a far as we could go and hopefully this would be to a point where we would get the public open spaces we were promised when the land was originally purchased and these would fit into a park designed to a very high standard.