Is it time to return Kennedy Plaza to its original purpose?
After watching the excellent new series of Eco Eye during the week, it had us thinking about what we have here in Navan. The programme focussed on why our towns are in decline and what can be done about it, and a key take away from it was “if people don’t like the look or feel of your town, or they don’t think it’s a place to sit or a place to congregate, they won’t come”.
It has us thinking. What public spaces or places to congregate does Navan town centre have right now? The ‘parklets’, which we worked hard to initiate, sprang to mind. But what else? Market Square? Fair Green!? We were struggling.
It brought us back to thinking of Kennedy Plaza. This is exactly what the large space opposite the shopping centre was designed for, back in 2008. It was dubbed ‘Navan’s Civic Space’, cost €3.5m and was an award-winning design.
But upon completion, Meath County Council and the councillors at the time decided to revert it back to a full time car park.
This piece of land was originally given to Meath County Council by Tom Kennedy, a local farmer and councillor who lived on Canon Row. Tom loved Navan and gave this land to the council to be used by the people of Navan, not to be used as a car park.
Now, before we get the inevitable cries of ‘not everyone can cycle’, no one here is saying you can’t drive to town or park up to do your shopping. Everyone is free to make their own choices. But Kennedy Plaza is opposite not one, but two, multi-story car parks, and there is another smaller one beside the credit union. In total, there are over 3,500 car parking spaces in Navan (plus, disability and age-friendly parking could easily be kept on a portion of the Plaza). So, with the demand for public spaces, pedestrianisation and an urgent need to reinvigorate our town centres at an all time high, is it time to return Kennedy Plaza to its original purpose?
We asked this question on social media, and the replies were unanimous (see below). We were even thinking of a potential motion, to get the ball rolling. It’s fairly obvious to see that towns like Navan are struggling and need all the help they can get. But how do we do that? Not only does Navan town centre lack any meaningful public space, it lacks any sort of pedestrianisation. Change is coming, but how fast do you want it?
In response to this, Navan resident Gary Alder started a petition to return Kennedy Plaza to the people of Navan. So far, it has over 150 signatures in less than 24 hours.
Below is a selection of responses from social media. Click on an image below to see bigger: