FOR many years now the Office of Public Works (OPW) has be fighting a guerrilla war against the motorists who want to traverse the Phoenix Park.
Every few years we get a road closure while the most awkward entrances have been maintained with zealous regard for their historical value.
The latest plan is not part of the guerrilla war. It’s open warfare – pretty much to the effect that through traffic and commuters are not welcome in the park at all.
Deep down this warms my green heart. I remember an evening a couple of years back when the park was almost closed to traffic entirely. It was heaven.
But I have a feeling that the more the park is closed off to occasional users or people passing by the more it will become ghettoized. It’s not the case that the dastardly commuters don’t enjoy their use of the Park. I did so over many years when the Park was not my destination.
The proposal to close off the Military Road in particular, will end one of the most pleasant drives in Dublin.
Local residents are not immediately concerned about the effect on the open spaces. They are drawing the obvious conclusion that a plan designed to drive cars out of the Park must put them somewhere else. For residents in Castleknock, Chapelizod and Ashtown this could make a disastrous situation worse.
The big part of the plan is to create a one-way system out of the Ashtown (entry) and Cabra (exit) gates at the northern end; and out of the Chalpelizod (entry) and Islandbridge (exit) gates at the southern end.
This makes a lot of sense on paper but its going to make using the park very awkward for a lot of people.
An example. I lived in Palmerstown and I used to use the football pitches opposite the Papal Cross. To use the pitches under the new plan I would drive in the Chapelizod gates and straight up to the grounds. No problem.
But to get back to Chapelizod, I would have to drive up to the roundabout in the middle of the Park; down the main road to the Zoo roundabout; hang right and exit at the Islandbridge Gate. At a rough guess that’s a four kilometre trip instead of my normal one kilometre trip to the Chapelizod gate.
This will have two possible effects. One, I would soldier on spewing out more pollution than I did before or two, me and my mates would find somewhere more convenient to play football.
I would remind the OPW and others that the people of Dublin in the year 2006 are real people with real needs.
Yes, it’s nice to preserve the Park as it is into the future. But it would be more beneficial to the people of today if a little more thought was put into the use of these extraordinary 1,750 acres. No one wants to use pitches where you can’t have a shower afterwards. This official awkwardness is preventing the full use of the Park to hundreds of sports clubs.
I suppose an underground car park and changing facilities would be sacrilege.
Obviously the nice gates and the deer matter more than people. For a lot of Dubliners the Park might as well be shut.