Calls have been made to get the Tramore Valley Park fully open for use by the local community.
Tens of millions were spent developing the public park on the site of the former landfill on the Kinsale Road. The large site was landscaped and internal roads and walkways laid down.
The park has several pitches and a large BMX track. But despite the approximately €40m spent, the public has limited access and the park is under-unused.
Barry O’Keeffe uses the BMX track with Cork BMX club but said it is hugely frustrating not to see more use being made of it.
“They spent millions but are falling at the last hurdle,” he said. “This was supposed to be this flagship park for our city. They spent millions but we can’t manage enough access.”
A Cork City Council spokesperson said: “A number of activities including use of the BMX track, the playing pitch, small school events currently take place at Tramore Valley Park. However, it is not open for unrestricted public use."
“A number of further capital works need to be carried out, and funding identified for an operational budget prior to any opening. However, it is envisaged that the Park will be open by mid 2018.”
It is a far cry from the optimism surrounding the park in 2015. The parkrun movement, popularised on Operation Transformation, was holding events around the country, including in Tramore Valley Park.
“We actually did have it running there for a number of months, it started in September 2015,” said Suzanne Quirke, who is involved in Ballincollig parkrun.
“The reason why it was cancelled was we were getting more and more people coming and it all came to a crunch one Saturday when we had over 500 people attending. It was great for us but there was a bit of a backlog of cars because parking was an issue.The City Council said they were cancelling it for health and safety reasons because cars were backed up on the N27."
"They said they would review it and come back to us after a few weeks with a plan for how to start up again. But then they came back and point blank refused to let us continue there anymore, citing that it was just too risky, because they didn’t have the parking," she said.
"We’re still hoping to start up there again but we’re not holding our breath.”
A Council spokesperson said: “The City Council did previously work with parkrun to facilitate a number of parkruns at Tramore Valley Park and part funded these runs. However, due to the huge numbers attending the event and travelling by car, the event had to be discontinued on health and safety grounds as runners were parking nearby off Kinsale Road and attempting to cross numerous traffic lanes on the extremely busy South City Link Road."
“Other venues were explored by Council officials with parkrun but were not deemed suitable due to similar parking problems, size of paths within parks, impact on other park users etc."
“It is planned to have Tramore Valley Park open next year, and it may be possible to accommodate further parkrun events at that stage.”
Organisers would love to see the park become available to them once more.
“Cork is the second city in Ireland and we don’t have a parkrun in the city limits. Dublin has about 10 now, Galway and Limerick have them. Thank goodness we have Ballincollig but it would be great to have one in the city.”
Mr O’Keeffe said it is also hugely frustrating to see the BMX track, a top class facility, lying idle for most of the time.
“There is no evening access and we could do so much with more access,” he said.
“We have young people who could be competing for Olympic medals in BMX if they could access the park to train. The cost would be negligible in comparison to the money that is invested in other Olympic sports. We have athletes at that level.”