Work on disputed car park

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A car park which had been occupied by two Travelling families near Ballyronan, is to be turned into a garden park.

Mid Ulster District Council is expected to start work on the project at Shore Road in the near future.

It is understood the carpark was closed to the public at the weekend in preparation for the work to commence.

The Travelling families were eventually evicted by the Council, raising concerns among residents that there were plans to open a halting site at nearby Traad Point, an area of outstanding beauty and scientific interest.

The council has now set up a Mid Ulster Travellers Working Group to look at issues affecting Travellers in association with other agencies, including the NI Housing Executive. It’s a ‘time limited’ group which met at the end of last year for the first time.

Welcoming the initiative at the council-owned car park, Thomas McElhone, of Shores of Traad Community Group (STCG), thanked everybody involved in taking the project forward.

“Saturday has seen the closing of an unwanted car park and the opening of a new chapter in promoting tourism and well being in our community,” he said. “Work has started on a new garden park connecting Ballyronan Woods with Ballyronan’s internationally recognized Blue Flag Marina.

Visitors will soon be able to park their car at the marina and enjoy a scenic walk through its woods arriving out into a beautiful garden park with a view of Lough Neagh and the bay of Traad.”

Mr McElhone said local schools will be asked to get involved in helping to plant the flowers and the plants.

“The very successful Ballyronan Playgroup located in the Marina building will have somewhere special to learn and enjoy,” he continued.

“Bringing this all together has not been an easy road, spearheaded by STCG , a group originally set up to protect Traad Point, an internationally recognized area of outstanding beauty. The group along with its parent organization, TBBDA, became aware of the bigger picture, that of Ballyronan Bay, and the wonderful opportunities to develop this beautiful area for the betterment of the community and attraction for tourism.”