Tuesday, 25th April 2017
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Michael Garland,

bizBoost Chair,

Greenway is up and running, or cycling or walking!

In a few days time, Saturday 25th March to be exact, the much anticipated Waterford Greenway will be officially opened. Encompassing Waterford City, in the East, to

Dungarvan Town, in the West, along the full 46 kilometre route. The use of this old, decommissioned railway line has been in planning for many, many a year and a number of sections have been accessible for some time now.

Saturday marks the opening of the “Full Monty” - a 46km coastal/inland route, which will simply blow your socks off, sharing some stunning vistas of sea, mountains, hills and glens.

Some parts of this coastline have for far too long been hidden gems, known only to a select few locals, quietly spoken about in the corners of bars and coffee shops. Now we can ALL shout from the rafters, that at long last, we are to have an alternative tourist attraction, which really does rival those dotted around the various corners of this wee green island.

In particular, the Waterford Greenway will rival the explosion of this type of development. Examples of these, can also be found in places that link Athlone and Mullingar, Westport and Achill Island, Abbeyfeale and Rathkeale. There are also plans to open a

Greenway in Connemara, between Cloonbeg and Athry, later this year.

These large infrastructural projects are being designed to bring new life to otherwise unused, huge tracks of land. The restructuring of old railway lines and tracks is a good idea and one that should be welcomed by all. We need to find and source new tourism markets for Waterford, if we are to drive the County and wider South East, out of the third tier of recovery we find ourselves in. The recent Sunday Times Rich List report shows Waterford County has the lowest level of wealth, when compared to the other 32 counties on this island. This is something that we must quickly address and correct, if we are to ever regain our status as the fourth city of Ireland.

Waterford’s Greenway, must now be sold to the people of Waterford and further afield, to a National and

International market. What cannot happen is that we open this wonderful attractor and sit back under the age old adage of “We have built this and now they will come!”. Not insignificant sums of public, Council, Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland money must be spent on PR, marketing and promotion of our Greenway. There will be plenty of competition fighting for these additional resources and we must make sure that we get our fair share.

There will also be an onus on the Council, to make sure that the eastern end of the Greenway actually connects to the heart of Waterford City. We created a wonderful Viking Triangle and the connectors to the City Centre have been an awfully long time in the making! This cannot be allowed to happen with this project.

At present, the western end connectors are ALL in place, with access right into the very heart of

Dungarvan. The eastern access points seem to be taking rather longer to be put in place and we have the very real prospect of yet another east/west split. Our “Full Monty” has to be delivered and delivered in a timely fashion.

Hopefully, from Saturday 25th March, tens of thousands of people will be coming to Waterford, with the sole purpose of travelling our Greenway. We must at the very least, ensure that they leave having been absolutely stunned by what they have seen. We want these people to return in their hordes, bringing more and more family and friends. Repeat customers are the very best customers and we need to encourage this culture.

I do hope that we, the local citizens, look after this important piece of new infrastructure for our future guests. We cannot allow the Greenway to become a cycle race track, a scrambler track, a pony-trekking route, or a convenient place to let your dog poop or a place to dump rubbish.....!

Waterford’s Greenway is another jewel in our crown, so let us keep it shining bright.

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