The remarkable transformation of a public amenity area in Tipperary Town has received national recognition.
The environmental and heritage project linked to the rejuvenation of the twenty one acre Tipperary Hills area won a local authorities award for Tipperary Town Council.
The Council was nominated for five of the national awards and shortlisted for four of them, winning the "Best Environmentally Friendly Initiative" award for the Tipperary Hills project at an awards ceremony held in Dublin last Saturday.
Mayor of Tipperary Billy Bourke accepted the award on behalf of the Council and he thanked all those involved, particularly the voluntary and community organisations who supported the Council in its work.
He praised the significant role made by the public in the preparation of the "Improvement Plan" and the meaningful contribution the Hills make to the quality of life of the citizens of Tipperary Town.
He emphasised that the Council had been working hard to maximise opportunities that will benefit the town, indicating that the shortlisted projects all have at their core the improvement of public infrastructure and amenities.
To be short listed in four categories - Best Environmentally Friendly Initiative (Tipperary Hills), Best Community Based Initiative (Tipperary Town Allotments), Best Public Playground Facility(Town Playground) and the prestigious Council of the Year award was a massive boost for the local authority.
The award was warmly received by Council officials and members this week.
"Tipperary Town Council's positive contribution to the environment and the objective of improving the quality of life of the citizens of the town through initiatives designed to enhance the cultural, amenity and heritage value of the town was recognised," said Town Manager Clare Curley.
She praised former mayor Mary Swords for nominating the project and said the submission made by town clerk Paul Murray played a crucial role. She also paid tribute to people who carried out various tasks on the site in a voluntary capacity on a regular basis.
"The people who work on a voluntary basis in the Hills go about their work quietly. It's not our award, it's their award ," said Ms Curley.
Said Town Clerk Paul Murray - "The Hills are an important recreational area for the people of Tipperary Town. They also include historical areas such as the St John's Famine Graveyard and an old Norman Motte. They are a very important part of the heritage of Tipperary Town. The purpose of the project was to promote the natural environment "The Hills" and to make it available to as many people as possible in the most environmentally friendly and sustainable way".
Work on the project began when the Council set out to ensure Tipperary Hills would be enjoyed by making the amenity accessible and purposeful. The Council decided to formulate an "Improvement Plan" and contracted consultants to carry out a site assessment with a view to providing a "new vision" for the area. In May 2009 the Improvement Plan was adopted by the Council following public consultation and included a comprehensive programme of improvement works such as- footpath edging and re-surfacing, provision of street furniture, signage, pedestrian access points, boundary treatment,improvement to pitch area, upgrading of carpark, provision of a "Boules" area, upgrading of existing "Ball Alley" and a planting scheme.
The Plan was launched in August 2009 on a day known as "Tipperary Hills Appreciation Day". This day of celebration was held again in 2010 on May 17 during International Biodiversity week and was the centrepiece for a range of activities designed to promote the environment and biodiversity in Tipperary town.