TWO New York graduates in urban and regional planning recently made Limerick city their first destination as part of a European tour to investigate the continent’s most innovative urban planning.
Couple Kyle Simpson and Robyn Keefe, who run the Plannings on Tour blog, have cycled their way through Ireland and will continue their journey through the UK and the rest of Europe.
After two days in the city, the bloggers published a piece dedicated to Limerick, entitled “Lighting up Limerick”, where they commended many of the city’s features.
Robyn, who is the blog’s main author, said the pair found similarities between Limerick’s urban planning and cities they have explored in the United States.
“One city that really stood out to us was Buffalo, New York. We just saw so many interesting parallels between the two cities. It [Buffalo] was also a city that was pretty big in its heyday and was pretty successful and then went through a lot of decline, in post-industrialisation. And now it’s on the rise again. You will also see that it is full of citizens that are full of pride that are working towards making their city a better place, and giving it another image,” she said.
According to Robyn, one major similarity between Limerick and the US is that the area suffers from a “donut effect”. Robyn, who graduated from the University of Albany, said that this is “where the central city is abandoned by residents anxious to live in more rural areas just outside, equipped with their own shopping centres, commuting in with their cars”.
Giving them the tour through the city, Limerick Marketing Company’s Nigel Dugdale said it was “lovely” to help them during the European trip.
“They arrived the night before so I met them the next day, and it was a really nice morning. And there are lots of visitors who would go through the city and not get a local person to tour the place.
“One of the key places I took them through was the boardwalk and all along the quays to show them the key 2030 sites, and for them to see the city through the eyes of a local was great, and they liked the idea that this new transformation that we are planning would shape the city for hundreds of years to come,” he said.
On the blog, Mr Dugdale said his dream for Limerick would be “to make it so that every time a person turns a corner they see something that makes you smile”.
They also praised Limerick’s bid for the European Capital of Culture 2020 and the Limerick Smarter Travel designation.
They also wrote that they loved the city because “there is love for Limerick by those who live here”.
“Cities are almost like living things with diversity, while at the same time, a lot of cities share a lot of the same struggles and a lot of the same successes. It’s really hard to compare Limerick to American cities. But we found Cruises Street quite interesting with the kite installation that was recently put up by the students. We thought that was pretty fabulous and pretty inspiring.”