Work on the Butler Gallery at Evans Home has been halted over funding fears, while work on the city’s much-debated Central Access Scheme bridge will be slightly delayed as more site investigation is needed.
Director of services John Mulholland updated the members of Kilkenny Borough Council on the Evans Home project last week. He revealed that while tender documents can now be prepared for the the appointment of a main contractor, the decision to go to tender will not be made until there is clarity on the funding of the project.
“We cannot go ahead at present as we can’t ensure that the funding will be in place,” he said.
The project has an estimated cost of €3.8 million, and it is not clear yet how much of this will come from central Government.
Meanwhile, progress on the River Nore bridge as part of the Central Access Scheme has been hampered by the fact that further site investigation is needed on both sides of the river to determine the depth of bedrock.
However, the €8.5 million scheme will go to tender later this year, and construction is expected to begin in 2014.
The council’s ‘immediate priority’ is now to take possession and demolish a number of buildings on Vicar Street, as well as undertaking further archaeological investigation.
Cllr Malcolm Noonan’s long-awaited motion – to ask that the council ‘hold in abeyance’ the scheme until the outer ring road is completed – was finally heard at Monday’s meeting. For the first time on the issue, he received support from another elected member – Cllr Kathleen Funchion.
However, all other members voted against the motion.
“Once the demolition has taken place, there is no going back,” said Cllr Noonan.
“A historic streetscape will be irrevocably changed and it will pave the way for an out-of-town retail site which would weaken our already struggling city centre retail.”
But city manager Joe Crockett disagreed.
“It is the view of the local authorities that this is essential to the future of the city,” he said.
The city’s other new bridge – the €600,000 pedestrian bridge proposed for Bateman Quay – is also progressing, with the part 8 public consultation period now over. The only submission was from Irish Water Safety, asking that something be done to prevent people jumping into the river from the side of the bridge. The council will engage in further consultation with the OPW, and the lattice truss option will proceed to tender.
A contractor will be appointed in June, and it is expected that the construction of the new bridge will be finalised in October.