Derry’s new riverside public park at Culmore is proving a big hit since it opened last week.
The new park is located along the banks of the River Foyle, accessed off Coney Road, and has 3kms of pathways with stunning views out over Lough Foyle and up as far as Moville and Binevenagh on a clear day.
Niall McLaughlin, Environmental Engineering Officer with Derry City & Strabane District Council, has been working on the £7m project to transform the former landfill site into a community facility.
Speaking at the park, Mr McLaughlin said: “The site was operational since the early ‘70s and it was closed then as a landfill site in 2007. The project was then put into motion Work began in 2013 and finished this year and the park opened then last week.
“The size of the entire site is 40 hectares which includes some areas of tidal lagoons. The park itself is 27 hectares with landscaped recreation space which is roughly 40 full-size football pitches.
“There is a path network installed. That allows public to go for a walk or a run, or use their bikes. There’s a dedicated public car park on site with in excess of 50 spaces to accommodate people.
“It’s totally pedestrianised, there’s no vehicle access on the pathway network itself. The paths are three metre wide, smooth surfaces. It is quite a safe area for children and families.”
Among those using the park since it opened have been walkers, runners, cyclists and birdwatchers, as the mudflats which can be seen from the park are a feeding ground for migrating birds.
One of the most innovative features of the parkland is the gas conversion facility. “It collects landfill gas which is then burned in an engine which produces electricity, and powers the building on the site and feeds into the national grid,” Niall said.
Mr McLaughlin said feedback from the local community has been very positive, with proposals to develop the site further, possibly with playing pitches, a play park and a community building over the coming years. “There will be the opportunity as well for public engagement as to how the site can be developed. That will be probably be some time early next year,” Niall said.
The park is open to the public seven days a week from from 8am to dusk.