Tralee town square looks set to be criss-crossed with non-slip pathways to prevent the public from slipping after being described locally as the “most dangerous square” in Ireland.
The open space, a trading area since the 1700s, was redeveloped and resurfaced in 2004 at a cost of €2 million as the catalyst for the ongoing regeneration of Tralee, for which an estimated €70 million is being invested in public works, housing and streetscapes.
The revamp of the town square with grey bollards against a cream French limestone surface was meant to be uplifting but concerns were soon raised about how slippery it became in the wet.
Last November, Tralee councillor Norma Foley (FF), who had slipped there herself demanded a fresh report on the resurfacing after a council assessment of the paving found it was slip-resistant.
“It’s highly dangerous. I’m aware of several people who have fallen there. I’ve fallen there myself and seen others falling,” Cllr Foley told the November meeting.
However, management insisted that tests on the square and on its side streets found nothing wrong with the surface.
Pursuing the matter at Monday’s meeting, in Tralee, Cllr Foley asked what steps had been taken to improve or upgrade the surface to make it safe.
She was told that fresh trials had to be postponed because of the “inclement weather” in December. Michael Scannell, director of services for Tralee, again insisted there was nothing technically amiss with the surface of the square, and its grip met requirements. However he accepted there was “an issue identified by the public in Tralee”.
New trials would take place, and a feasibility study for the redesign was also being examined, the meeting was told.
“This may involve the subdivision of the open areas within the town square thereby creating desire lines which would ultimately require new paved surfaces,” the council said in a written reply to Cllr Foley.
The councillor welcomed the subdivision but said not just the square but its immediate offshoots – Abbeycourt and Denny Lane – also needed to be examined
“It is the most dangerous stretch of area you would find anywhere - not just Tralee,” Cllr Foley said.
The surface had been “a problem for many years,” Cllr Pa Daly (SF) said in support of Cllr Foley. He asked the council to supply an estimate, for the March meeting, of how much the local authority had paid out for trips and falls at the square following insurance claims.