MEMBERS of the business and local community in Naas rallied together on Friday night to voice serious concern for the future of the town centre.
Following the closure of around 60 retailers in the last five years an action group was set up to help prevent the once thriving town from being turned into a ghost town. Naas Against Authority Sabotage (NAAS) strongly objects to approved plans for the pedestrianisation of Poplar Square and cycle lanes on the Kilcullen Road.
“The people of Naas stated very clearly last night that they do not want this to happen,” said a spokesperson for the group following the meeting.
Around 250 people attended a public meeting in the Town House Hotel on Friday and it was agreed to lobby Kildare Co Council to revitalise the town by different measures.
The action group was set up by two local women, Mary Burke-Spratt and Chris Wilson, and was chaired by another Naas woman Tina O’Kelly. It was attended by the majority of the Naas municipal district councillors along with North Kildare TDs James Lawless and Catherine Murphy.
There was heated debate on the night as people criticised the council and some of the councillors for not doing more to prevent businesses from closing.
Local traders raised serious concern that the plans to majorly reconstruct the town centre include the loss of more car parking spaces.
The €3m project, which includes the pedestrianisation of Poplar Square and cycle lanes on the Kilcullen Road, was approved by municipal district councillors last year. It will mean the loss of at least 16 car parking spaces in the square and more on the Kilcullen Road. The traders feel the establishment of new business is a much more urgent need than physical work to the lanscape. They had managed to get 500 people to sign a petition opposing the plan prior to it being passed by local council.
At the meeting speakers called on everyone to purchase locally and help local businesses to continue to trade. There were calls to help really make Naas a great place to shop, which has been the town’s motto for many years. .
“Unfortunately our efforts to do this could be hampered by the proposals to reduce car parking spaces, increase in rates, high insurance costs, increase in the cost of parking and the inclusion of wider paths to include cycle lanes,” the spokesperson added.
“Let’s make the capital of Kildare, the town of kings be the celebrated town that it was, by asking those in authority to reconsider their plans to overhaul the town. Let’s not have our wonderful town be turned into for the want of a better term, a ghost town.”
More than 1,000 posters were printed by the group calling on the community to attend the meeting following the closure of a number of business like Ciaran Mattimoe’s Londis shop, The Foot Shop and Top Drawer in Naas
The new committee is made up of Mary Burke Spratt, Mary English, Eoin O’Connor, Robin Skelton, Kim Kelleher, Larry Swan, Tina O’Kelly, Chris Wilson and Cllr Darren Scully.
They called on everyone to lobby the council by texting or emailing local councillors to have the cycle lanes project stopped. The closing date for this is 8 February 2017. Contact details for local councillors are available on the county council website.