THERE are calls on Limerick City and County Council to buy an empty property in Abbeyfeale which could provide public access from the town car park to Main Street.
Councillors have demanded that the local authority purchase the former Tom Ahern’s butchers shop immediately to stop it falling into the hands of a private developer.
A total of €100,000 has been set aside by the council to buy the shop, and according to the traffic plan for the town, the bottom floor of the three-storey building will be knocked to provide access from the car park to Main Street. The remainder of the building will be stablised to facilitate this.
However, with the traffic plan currently on ice, Fine Gael councillor Liam Galvin has called for the property to be purchased.
At a special meeting of City and County Council in Dooradoyle, he said that the auctioneer in question was well-disposed to selling it to the council - but he will not wait if a private bidder comes in.
“I am quite anxious that this property is bought. If it means it is set aside for 12 months, we should still buy it. The plans will not happen at all if it is sold to a third party,” he said.
He said the purchase of the building and its subsequent conversion to access will be a “huge boost” to the town, pointing out if will save customers time, and benefit business.
He was backed up by Fine Gael leader Cllr John Sheahan who said the council should have the power to acquire properties “which are strategic to the better management of towns”.
He gave an example of Limerick City Council’s buying of the Opera Centre site back in 2011.
“The squares and centres of our towns are dying,” he pointed out.
Sinn Fein councillor Seamus Browne agreed, saying the purchase of that building is “very important” to the future development of Abbeyfeale.
Council official Gerry Sheeran said: “The issue of this property purchase will have to be discussed in terms of how we go ahead.”
Meanwhile, Cllr Galvin has accused the NRA of acting “disgracefully” over its plans to cut 14 car parking spaces in Abbeyfeale in favour of traffic lights.
“They have treated the people of Abbeyfeale very badly. They failed to even come down and discuss the plan,” he said.