Cllr Seamie Moore pictured last year at the walkway which councillors voted to close down. Photo: Tony Keane
Naas councillors have voted to close off a walkway outside the town amid claims of anti social behaviour.
The Monread Walkway is part of a small wooded area close to the Sallins road-Monread Road. Cllr Seamie Moore campaigned for its closure saying that residents had complained about fires being lit in the area, camps being set up and bottles being thrown over walls into private residences.
However the Naas Municipal District was split down the middle over whether to close the area by extinguishing the right of way and the closure decision was made when Naas Mayor Fintan Brett voted in favour.
A public consultation process took place in the run up to the decision.
As part of this Kildare county council received a total of 35 submissions, most of which (60%) were against the closure — with 405 in favour.
A Naas Municipal District meeting also heard that the gardai were in favour of closing off the walkway.
Most of those who contacted the council said they used the path daily for a number of treasons.
These included walking from Sallins to the cinema, keeping children safe from traffic, as well as using it to get to the rail station in Sallins. Residents also said they used it.
But those who wanted it closed expressed fears that the path is dark and dangerous and referred to anti social behaviour — specifically centred around young people consuming alcohol and fast food.
One resident said there were safety fears and a complained about litter and nuisance while another said the path leads through a housing estate and a consequent danger to pedestrians by by cars exiting entrances.
Another felt intimidated by people drinking.
One resident “strongly supported” the closure “for lots of reasons but mainly due to their living in fear and have to go to a neighbour’s house for peace and comfort.”
Cllr Moore questioned the estimated €15,000 cost of closing it, which was put forward by KCC.
He said closure would protect the safety and quality of life of residents.
The trees, he added were planted in 1983 and are now quite large.
“People are setting up camp, lighting fires, drinking through the night and living a kind of rustic life,” said Cllr Moore adding that both KCC and Naas Tidy towns had cleaned up the place.
“We should thin it out at least because it’s a fire hazard with people lighting fires and having barbecues.
There’s shouting and roaring and people throwing bottles in over walls.
This has been going on for three years. It is a dark area and the people who use it during the day aren’t there at night. The gardai have been called and they want it closed.”
He claimed people were cutting down trees to make sheds.
Cllr Carmel Kelly said that while residents have had problems, closing it off might not solve the problem because it could still be used.
Cllr Kelly said cutting down trees and erecting lighting might solve the problem.
Cllr Rob Power said closing the walkway would not put an end to anti social behaviour.
“People lighting fires are the hazard not the trees. We need to tackle anti social behaviour and we shouldn’t be dictated to by a small group of people.
“Lighting might help and maybe the trees cut be cut if it doesn’t interfere with the management of the motorway,” added Cllr Power.