Newry.ie

A campaigner for the Albert Basin Park Project has written a blog post explaining why he thinks the Albert Basin Park Project must be top of the Council’s Agenda post Lockdown.

Architect James McConville a member of Newry 2020 says the Covid-19 Crisis and the subsequent Lockdown have exacerbated the existing inequalities within our society:

Of those with secure employment and those without, Of those with secure housing and those without, Of those with a garden and those without,

He explains "The same can be true for cities with those with parks and those without. Newry is the only city in Ireland that doesn’t have a city park.

This fact has undoubtedly compounded the negative physical, mental and economic effects of the Lockdown period on our citizens.

On the flipside Covid 19 has shown us why the Albert Basin Park Project must be top of the council’s agenda post Lockdown."

Three reasons why

The Albert Basin. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
The Albert Basin. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Reason 1 — The Albert Basin Park Project will make us live longer

Hands up if you want to live longer.

The Barcelona Institute for Global Health analysed nine existing studies involving eight million city-dwellers around the world and the results showed adults who lived near green spaces were significantly less likely to die young from any cause, including heart disease, cancer and dementia.

The key reasons underlying this fact is due to increased exercising rates and a reduction of polluted air.

It should be noted that prior to the lockdown Newry had one of the worst air pollution rates in Northern Ireland. The need to look after our environment will be highlighted by Newry 2020’s exciting new Smart Newry project, which will deliver a community-owned open real-time air quality sensor network across the city and will provide important insights into the environmental health of the city.

Reason 2 — The Albert Basin Park Project will make us calmer

Although at the risk of stating the obvious to anyone in self-isolation in parkless Newry City, parks are super important for our mental health. Countless studies have shown the direct correlation between distance to green spaces and improved mental health,

In fact an American Study found people living more than 1 kilometer away from a green space have nearly 50 percent higher odds of experiencing stress than those living less than 300 meters ( or a five minutes walk) from a green space.

Reason 3 — The Albert Basin Park Project will make us richer

So the Albert Basin Park Project will make us live longer and a lot calmer but it will also make us economically richer as a society through attracting businesses, increasing tourism and reducing healthcare costs.

This point is absolutely vital for Newry City as it seeks to economically develop in a post Lockdown environment.

Retail Restructured

Mr McConville adds "Covid 19 has fundamentally restructured the retail sector through rapidly accelerating the trend towards online shopping. As a result many big high street names including Debenhams, the Quay’s flagship store, have filed for administration with many other major stores recording record losses.

"As previously argued in an Open Letter, Newry needs to take some of its eggs out of the retail basket, diversify and attract inward investment from other sources.

"The city centre Albert Basin Park will help do this by attracting more people to live, work and spend time in our great city. For Newry City to compete in a 21st century Ireland without a city park isn’t a viable long term economic strategy. Newry cannot afford to not have the Albert Basin Park."

Conclusion

James asks everyone to get Involved There is hope. The Albert Basin Park Project is going to happen, however when and what type of city park is up to all of us and our level of engagement in the campaign.

Preparatory Albert Basin environmental surveys have now been completed and a formal public consultation is on the way to determine what key facilities the community want in their new city park.

"Covid 19 has shown us why the Albert Basin Park Project must be top of the council’s agenda post Lockdown from a physical, mental and economic perspective." McConville concludes.

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