IN the ten years I've been working with The Kerryman I have found few things that have exercised the mind of the public in Tralee like the potential and plans for the old Denny plant which was handed over to Tralee Town Council by Kerry Group earlier this month.
It will likely be several years before any development takes place on the site but already its potential is the talk of the town. Since the announcement last week almost every conversation I've had around town has eventually turned to the site and what should be done with it.
Opinions on the matter are many and varied. Some want a new free car park (the word free being the emphasis there), some want an event centre, while others are keen to see offices built that could meet the needs of growing companies currently based at Kerry Technology Park.
The third option, and the one I'd tend to favour, is to build a public amenity that could be of use to the public 365 days of the year and bring new life to the town centre. Tralee already has a lot of car parks and parking spaces and there is already a surfeit of vacant office spaces dotted all over town, for example in the Centrepoint building which would be enough to meet the needs of any growing company.
An event centre while an interesting idea is probably not suited to the site and plans for a semi permanent Rose Dome at Fels point seem more logical.
But what about creating an amenity like Limerick's well known and very successful Milk Market? The covered market is home to a bustling fair every weekend, houses a variety of stalls and shops every day and can easily host large outdoor concerts and festivals.
It is also a popular meeting and gathering point for the people of Limerick and since it was redeveloped has breathed new and vibrant life into what was once one of the city's most underdeveloped areas.
Limerick is of course much larger than Tralee and as such the Milk Market can draw on a much larger population but some figures about the Milk Market give an idea of just how successful such developments can be.
The Milk Market attracts around 10,000 people every weekend each spending an average of €64 in the market and the city centre per visit.
One especially interesting fact about the Milk Market is that more than half, 55 per cent, of those weekly visitors are from outside Limerick with large numbers travelling from Clare, Tipperary and, significantly, north Kerry to attend.
Obviously a similar development in Tralee would attract a smaller crowd but even so the potential boost to the town could be enormous and, importantly, ongoing.