By Sean Moriarty
Killarney Municipal Council is investigating the possibility of giving free parking to town centre workers.
Under the proposal, people who work in town centre businesses would be allowed park free of charge in the under-used Rock Road car park.
It is all part of plan to free up town centre parking spaces in an effort to increase footfall in the main shopping areas of the town.
It came about after several elected councillors asked council officials to provide free parking in the town centre, for a limited period each day, to help businesses get back on track after weeks of pandemic related shutdowns. It was also hoped that free parking would offset parking spaces lost as a result of social distancing bollards that have been placed on most town centre streets.
At Wednesday’s elected members meeting Cllr Marie Moloney put forward a motion to offer free parking between 9am and 11am each day to “encourage shoppers to come back into the town for their shopping”.
Killarney Municipal District Manager, Angela McAllen, refused to approve free parking in Killarney town centre.
“It is a budget issue and there is a significant budget gap this year, and car parking makes up a significant portion of this,” she told the meeting.
However, she agreed to investigate the possibility allowing town centre employees the chance to park for free at the newly developed Rock Road car park in an effort to take cars away from the Glebe and Beech Road car parks.
Anecdotal evidence suggests business owners and their employees take up valuable town centre spaces every day.
The Rock Road car park, regardless of the current pandemic situation, is operating well below target and the adjacent coach park has seen very little activity this year.
Cllr Niall ‘Botty’ O’Callaghan asked if the Rock Road car park was actually paying its way – such is limited use of the new parking area. “The bus bay has not been used for months,” he said.
Newly elected Mayor, Cllr Brendan Cronin, said he could not understand why parking was such an issue, given the reduced number of visitors and events Killarney is experiencing this season.
“People are forgetting that there are 125 more spaces in the Fair Hill car park, Bird’s Amusements usually fill that but they are not there this week,” he said.