There are concerns that developing a community garden could cause an increase in anti-social behaviour in Arklow.
During the January meeting, Cllr Peir Leonard (Ind) gave an update on the project to the other members of the municipal district. She said that the people involved had put in a lot of work and were anxious about continuing with their commitment if the project was not feasible. She asked other councillors if they were willing to support the concept of a community garden in the town.
Cllr Pat Fitzgerald (FF) said he had no issue with the idea, but there was a need for consultation with residents who were concerned about parking and access to the garden.
Cllr Tommy Annesley (FF) said he had received calls from residents about the issue. Concern had been raised about the inclusion of allotments.
Cllr Leonard asked for a vote on the matter.
Cllr Fitzgerald said a vote was not needed. He asked Cllr Leonard to speak with the residents of the area.
Cllr Leonard noted that a part 8 application would be required and people could make submissions during this process. She said a volunteer was developing a 3D interactive image of the proposed garden.
Acting district engineer Rob Mulhall noted that the Part 8 process takes around 20 weeks. He asked Cllr Leonard to provide him with examples of other towns which had developed community gardens.
Cllr Leonard said there would be pedestrian access to the area and that allotments did not need to be part of the design. She described the concept as a 'biodiversity garden' that she hoped residents would become involved with.
Cllr Annesley mentioned that Blackrock had a 'beautiful' garden managed by the Tidy Towns committee. However, the 'elephant in the room' was the risk of anti-social behaviour at night and a fear that the garden itself could encourage more.
Cllr Leonard suggested CCTV could be installed and the risk of anti-social behaviour couldn't be a 'reason not to do this'. The aim was to develop a green space in the South Beach area.
District administrator Claire Lawless said that €10,000 had been allocated for a tourism project in 2017 by the Community, Cultural and Social Development section of Wicklow County council. Any new proposals would have to be referred to the directorate for consideration.