Local business owners have this week raised concerns over access to Main Street in Roscommon town for older pedestrians and those with disabilities as Public Realm Enhancement works gather pace in the county town.
While reaction to the works to transform Main Street and The Square has been mostly positive from business owners, there are reservations that the extensive roadworks have made life difficult for some shoppers and residents.
Local butcher, Tom Madden, was impressed with the progress of works so far but highlighted issues faced by some pedestrians.
“The progress the workers are making is something else and it’s going to be a fabulous job once it’s finished, but I would like to see more access for older people and those with disabilities,” he said.
“We are still in level five lockdown and some of the older people only get out once a week to collect their pensions, go to the bank and get some shopping. You also have to consider that this will be going on for a few months. I see some older people being linked by family members and they’re finding it hard to get around the town. Some people even come into the shop here to take a break from the walking,” he said.
“It’s clear that they have made tremendous progress on Main Street and that’s great to see. I had initially objected to the works due to my concerns regarding the two-way traffic plan, and while I am still concerned about losing the free-flowing element to the town and the amount of access for shoppers, I am much more optimistic. My main hope is that the development is progress and not a step backwards,” she said.
“Access is my main concern and I hope that the footpaths are wide enough and that there aren’t any hazards for wheelchair users or older people. I am looking forward to seeing the end result though, and hope that it’s as beneficial and progressive as hoped for the people who live, work and shop here,” she said.
Local Independent councillor Kathleen Shanagher spoke to the Roscommon People yesterday in order to ally fears.
“I do acknowledge that it can be quite difficult due to the works on Main Street but the footpath remains the same and there’s no difference really apart from when crossing the street.
“There is access to businesses on lower Main Street from Church Street and that may be a more convenient route for shoppers.
“Local business representatives meet on the first Thursday of every month and I will raise these concerns at the next meeting which is Thursday, May 6th. I would encourage any business owners who have concerns to raise them at next week’s meeting. The engineers will listen and take any concerns on board (and have already made efforts to assist pedestrian traffic).
“The new footpaths are in place near Chapel Lane and works are progressing well,” she said.
Cllr. Shanagher reassured business owners that parking spaces would still be available on Main Street when works were completed and that signage will be put in place to direct visitors and shoppers to businesses located off the Main Street.