'We don't have cash for upgrade of Bridge Street'
Traders and residents left in limbo over Bridge Street proposals
There is no funding to carry out rejuvenation works to Bridge Street and adjoining streets, councillors were told at last week's meeting of the Dundalk Municipal District Committee.
Director of Service Mr Frank Pentony re-iterated that Louth County Council didn't have any money to extend the proposed works to include the St Nicholas Quarter.
He explained that the local authority had agreed to expand the design to include the St Nicholas Quarter in the Part Vlll proposal but there was no funding available to carry out the work.
'It will be included in the Part Vlll design but we have made it clear that we do not have €7.5million.
However, he stressed that the Council would continue to look for funding streams and that having the design proposals completed meant that they would be able to get the project up and running once money became available.
The plans were out on public consultation until March 12th after which a report would be prepared which members could approve, amend or vary.
'We would love to have the money to do Bridge Street but we don't have it,' he said. 'We did give a commitment to look for the money to do it but we don't have it but we will continue to look for it.'
He told Cllr Peter Savage that they had received €2million from the European Regional Development Fund which accounted for 50% of the cost and they had to provide the remainder from their own resources.
'We just need to shake every available tree in the next year or two but if it goes on for longer, people will lose faith,' said Cllr Mark Dearey. 'We need to take a strong position and not tell people that it will never happen. We have to keep faith in the process.'
Warning that if the Bridge Street area wasn't supported, they would end up with a scenario like Narrow West Street in Drogheda, Cllr Emma Coffey urged the council to find funding. 'We don't want that repeated in the country's second largest town,' she said.
Cllr Marianne Butler asked if it was possible to amend the Local Contribution Scheme (development levies) to prioritise Bridge Street for funding when it becomes available from that stream rather than going round with the begging bowl.
'We need to have some idea where the money is going to come from.'
Cllr Conor Keelan suggested they encourage all public representatives to share their goal of getting as much support as they can for the project.
'The streets we are talking about didn't benefit from Urban Renewal Schemes in the past and deserve investment.'
Cllr Anne Campbell stressed that with the prospect of a hard border following Brexit, Bridge St. could become a 'frontier of a major international border' and urged the council to secure funding from the EU and Irish government as quickly as possible.
'Brexit has to be on top of the list when Louth County Council is looking for money,' she stated.
Mr Pentony responded that the local authority was not saying that Bridge Street won't be done, but that based on the current funding they don't have the money.
'We are not saying it will never be done,' he said. 'We will have the design complete if other sources of funding become available.'
He added that the €2million which the council was spending on the project was coming from development levies.