Kennedy Park in Eyre Square is set to be dug up again – and concreted over – to make way for an open-air concert space in a bid to secure European Capital of Culture status for Galway in 2020.
Galway City Council has secured part-funding of €3.7 million from the Arts Council – contingent on the city securing the ‘culture’ title – while additional funds are available through the European Union’s ‘Creative Europe’ scheme.
It’s understood the project would take up to 12 months to complete and involve extensive excavation to pour concrete foundations.
It comes on the 10th anniversary of contracts being signed between the Council and Samuel Kingston Construction for the controversial Eyre Square enhancement scheme, which was set to cost €6.3m, but costs rose to €15m after the contractors walked off the job.
A spokesperson for the Council said the existing green areas of the Square are not suitable for use as performance spaces, and it is now proposed to use “attractive paving and concrete”.
“We’re looking at creating a public plaza in the centre of the city, which would have performance spaces for up to 6,000 people as well as space for demonstrations, readings, recitals and protests.
“We’ve had issues with the Christmas market and the damage that has been caused to the grass areas in Kennedy Park. If we are serious about securing the European Capital of Culture status, then an outdoor concert area is a key requirement.
“We have funding in place, albeit contingent on being awarded City of Culture status. It could prove an effective revenue stream for the Council too, if people were charged a nominal fee of €10 each for events,” he said.
Engineers have already cordoned off parts of the Square to carry out preliminary surveys on ground conditions.
“Initial inspections show very poor drainage and overall soil conditions because of what’s termed ‘peat kiss’. Works would involve an excavation to a depth of around six feet, lowering a pre-cast concrete sub-structure and then pouring concrete,” Ms Flora Lopi of the UK-based Calico, Park Jet engineering consultancy firm told the Sentinel.
The City Council has invited submissions from members of the public on the future of Eyre Square for a period of four weeks from today, Tuesday April 1.
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In the end, Minister Harris agreed that there needed to be a masterplan for Galway City.