29 May 2017
By Bryan T. Smyth
Demolition work is to begin today on the site of the former Munster Showgrounds paving the way for Cork City Council to develop Marina Park.
Marina Park in Blackrock, at approx 32 ha, will be approximately five times the size of Fitzgerald’s Park. It will run around the redeveloped Páirc Ui Chaoimh and includes the popular Atlantic Pond amenity. The iconic city park, which designers describe as a “podium for outdoor activities”, is just 2.5 km east of Cork city centre.
Marina Park extends from Monahan Road and Central Park Road to the west to the harbour at Blackrock to the east. Blackrock pier is currently being redeveloped and is due to be unveiled in June.
The Marina Park plans went through public consultation in 2014 and the detail design for Phase 1 is being finalised between now and the end of July. Phase 1 (€7 million) will go out to tender in the second half of the year and construction work is due to begin in early 2018 with an expected opening date of December 2018/January 2019. The Master Plan and Part viii have been approved by Cork City Council. Additional phases to complete the entire development of the park will be put in place over a number of years as finance becomes available.
- The heart of Marina Park will be the site of the central hall area of the former Munster Showgrounds. The aim is to retain a portion of the central hall and use it as a pavilion. It will include a covered playground, event space and food/drinks outlet.
- The design philosophy of the park is based around accessibility, activity, ecology, biodiversity, nature conservation, culture and outdoor events
- According to the design consultants, OKRA “the agricultural shows were important social, cultural, commercial and educational events” and their heritage has been incorporated into the design of the park.
- A central plaza, composed of natural stone and asphalt, will be used for gatherings and organised events. It’s hoped that it will be used to host large and small scale cultural events in line with Cork City Council Arts, Culture and Heritage Strategies.
- A children’s water play area will be a central plank of the plan. A large interactive water feature can be turned off so the space can also be used as a location for markets or concerts.
- A western plaza will host smaller events and is aimed at buskers and street performance acts.
- The sports zone will strive to provide additional boating facilities along the Marina and will be dominated by the stadium and the Centre of Excellence. An outdoor events/performance field will be situated to the left of the stadium with a capacity to hold 1800 people.
- A number of play areas including a marshland play area will be developed for younger children as will hard courts for tennis, football and basketball.
- A more adventurous play area for older children will include an adventure play section with tree top walk, high ropes, small BMX track within the natural wooded areas east of Atlantic Pond.
- The park and picnic zone will have the Atlantic Pond at its centre.
- There are two access routes through the park: the tree-lined Marina which begins at Shandon Boat Club and continues to Blackrock Harbour and the former Cork, Blackrock and Passage West railway line which, shaded by mature trees, is already used for walking and cycling. The former Railway line will be widened where appropriate and non indigenous undergrowth cleared. Improved lighting on the Old Railway Line will be added as the park evolves to deter anti social behaviour.
- It is aimed at visitors on foot and on bicycle and pathways will be wide enough to allow other recreational activities like skating and jogging. Jogging tracks are also being considered.
- A series of meandering trails will allow exploration of the quieter sections of the park east of Atlantic Pond. Existing marshland areas will remain as a valuable wildlife habitat.
- Walkways taking in Dundanion Castle and Barringtons Folly are aimed at silent contemplation.
- A docking facility on the Atlantic Pond will be developed for model yacht and boating activities.
The Marina Park Masterplan was formulated by OKRA Landscape Consultants, one of Europe’s leading Landscape Architects in consultation with the Council’s Parks Division Personnel. The project is funded by EU, LIHAF and Cork City Council.