Tralee Eco Park
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Tralee is to have an exciting new multi-million euro visitor attraction by 2011 following the announcement by Minister for Tourism Ms. Mary Hanafin, TD, that €3m is to be made available from Fáilte Ireland to Tralee Town Council for the proposed €4.2m Lee Valley Activity & Nature Park. The Minister's announcement has been warmly welcomed by the tourism interests and allows work to commence almost immediately on the site works opposite the Aqua Dome at Ballyard. The project has been a long term objective of successive Town Councils since 2000 and is expected to attract up to 70,000 visitors annually to Tralee. Town Clerk Michael Scannell says the new development will help sustain existing jobs and create up to 20 new ones directly and demonstrates to all that Tralee takes tourism seriously. It will complement the Blennerville Windmill, Steam Railway and Aqua Dome, in particular, he said "and help to re-position Tralee in the green and nature tourism market."
The new 8 hectare (20 acre) eco-tourism development comprises a Nature Park focussing on the diversity of the internationally renowned Tralee Bay Nature Reserve. Novel features include a multi-lingual, safari-style boat ride (a first in Ireland) and viewing tower offering panoramic views of Tralee Bay. A new Visitor Centre will act as an interpretive centre of the estuarine wetlands and as an orientation centre for the natural history of west and north Kerry. The activity zone comprises a lake for light water sport activities, 2.3km of walking and cycling trails and a smaller lake stocked with fish.
The Council has worked closely with Failte Ireland South West, the National Parks & Wildlife Service, Institute of Technology Tralee, South West Fisheries, and Holiday Tralee in developing its proposals. The project will be developed in stages over the next 9 months with site investigation works already underway. It is planned to have the Eco Park by the 2011 tourist season. Access to the activity zone will be free but there will be a fee to access the nature zone.
The architects for the new development are Scott Wilson, Belfast, specialist advisors are the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), Slimbridge UK, the civil and services engineers are Malachy Walsh & Partners based in Blennerville and Quantity Surveyors are Kane Crowe Kavanagh, Princes Street, Tralee.
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