‘THE road into Baltimore is not fit for purpose,’ according to Cllr Joe Carroll.
The Fianna Fáil public representative tabled a motion at a meeting of the Western Division of Cork County Council calling on the local authority to devise a development plan for the village.
He said Baltimore needs a plan that would address the narrow gauge of the road leading into the village, traffic congestion, the need for additional parking, and the development of land adjacent to the centre of the village at Bull Point.
‘I decided to put down the motion because Baltimore is hitting crisis levels due to its popularity,’ he said. ‘The road into Baltimore is not fit for purpose. It needs to be widened, and very soon.’
At the height of the season, Cllr Carroll said buses are stopped from going down to the pier because they cannot turn around due to the level of congestion.
‘All the parking gets used up, which means people travelling to the islands have no place to park,’ he added.
The councillor suggested that land at Bull Point – which was once owned by the parish, then went into the ownership of Cork/Kerry Tourism, and is now owned by Fáilte Ireland – should be developed to provide much needed parking and other amenities.
‘I think the Council would want to up their game with regard to Baltimore,’ he added. ‘I’d like to see a lot of their problems addressed before next summer.’
He maintained the issuing of parking tickets to deal with the sometimes haphazard or illegal parking isn’t the solution because that only ‘turns people away.’
Even Council engineers, he said, agree that the traffic situation and the road into Baltimore – which is extremely narrow and unevenly surfaced in places – needs to be resolved.
Cllr Carroll said the village has always been a popular destination but it became even more popular during lockdown.
In addition, he said more and more people are visiting the islands, which not only adds to the level of traffic congestion it also creates demand for even more parking.
Cllr Carroll called on the Council to work with Baltimore Community Council and for them to ‘move forward together.’
Divisional county manager Clodagh Henehan said Baltimore is one of 15 key villages across the Council’s Western Division and it ranks ‘middle’ in terms of population numbers.
‘We will commit to meeting the Community Council in 2022,’ she said, ‘but the Council has already done a lot of good work there in recent years.’
Last year, she said the Council removed the overhead wires in the square and put them in ducts underground in order to enhance the overall appearance of the village.
‘As villages go,’ she added, ‘the off-street car parking is pretty good, but I acknowledge that it is used for people who live on the island and those who make day trips to the islands and that there is a need for more parking.’
A rough count showed there are 234 car parking spaces available in the village, whereas the village of Drimoleague has 100, and Ballydehob has 150.
The manager said a new car park was developed in Baltimore eight years ago, but she acknowledged there is ‘huge pressure on the village’ during the peak season.
As for parking tickets, she warned, people who do not park appropriately ‘will get a ticket.’
Clodagh Henehan said the Council would work with bus operators to look at creating an appropriate plan for the village.
She said she believes the village has the potential for a one-way system that would remove the need for U-turns.
The manager said the Council has had discussions with Fáilte Ireland in relation to the use or possible development of Bull Point.
Cllr Carroll reminded Council officials that ‘Baltimore is a completely different place for four months of the year than at other times of the year.’
He maintained that land at Bull Point ‘should be should be strictly for the enhancement of the village.’