When you drive down the Condell road going towards town, with the river on your right and the various fields and parks on your left you presumably either speed or resent the seemingly low speed limit on one of the best stretches of road approaching Limerick city. Why is the speed limit so low on that stretch? It is possible the best way to see the road is that the road doesn’t actually run between the river and the parks, the road actually bisects a larger parkland. It is a large road that traverses a larger park. When you see the road as a park drive you can appreciate why the speed limit is so low.
There has been several improvements to Westfields over the last few years with new paths and cycle-lanes installed. It still doesn’t fully feel like a driver is driving through a park though. I am unclear as to how this could be rectified, or what way the park could be orientated to make it a park first and foremost and a roadway secondly, but it’s worth considering. Limerick city isn’t short of parks, but it is short of high quality ones. Westfields, the Ted Russell Park and Barrington’s Pier are not three separate areas but should be seen as constituent parts of the larger parkland.
The idea of roads cutting through parks also merits thinking about when we consider the People’s Park and the green space between Parnell Street and the Hyde road. It would be interesting to see a project where that green space was somehow integrated into the People’s Park. This would not necessarily mean removing the road but perhaps street level improvements to facilitate people moving between the two spaces, and cultivation of the green space into park space. At the very least, the green space could be made more user friendly by the installation of seating and pathways through it. It would be a better use of the space as well as improving significantly the impression that visitors to Limerick get when they leave Colbert station.
Westfields is only a short walk from O’Connell street but you’d never know about it regardless. We don’t encourage people in the city to experience the park a good number of the them drive through daily. Like so much infrastructure in Limerick, there rarely seems to be a coherent plan to integrate the various pieces together.
As pointed out, Limerick city isn’t particularly short of parks and green space, but the quality of these spaces should be continually upgraded for the benefit of the entire communities. For a long time, too long a time, parks in Limerick were verging on unpopular due to issues with keeping the spaces safe and the facilities maintained. The solution to those issues can never be less parks but suitable measures taken to ensure the parks can be enjoyed by everyone.