OAK PARK residents are furious this week at the decision by some councillors to take the side of developers over their own electorate, depriving the town of its unique and much-loved green space.
The residents were dealt a crushing blow at Monday's meeting of Carlow County Council when the decision was taken to put Carlow Towns Environs Area Plan on public display with the Oak Park area zoned for residential lowdensity housing.
The decision removes the possibility of locating either a cemetery or additional amenity/open space area in Oak Park and bitterly divided the council chamber.
The Oak Park residents believe this opening shot by the council will now be impossible to overturn resulting in Carlow losing forever this wonderful and historic amenity.
Greencore's ambitious Gateway Carlow proposal also looks on course with the majority of councillors backing the mixed-use and residential zoning of the site of the former sugar factory.
"This is a sad day for Carlow when the wishes of its people have been ignored in their councillors' desire to appease developers. Our elected representatives have chosen to put party-political loyalty before their responsibilities to the electorate. Shame on them," said Paul White, a spokesperson for the Save Oak Park Group.
The crucial vote divided the council chamber largely along party lines with Fine Gael and Labour backing the rezoning and the release of the plan to public display while Fianna Fáil divided between a core group of four against the rezoning and the plan's release and three abstentions.
The debate resulted in five public roll-call votes, with each of the 20 members present having to publicly declare their intentions, watched by a large group of interested parties viewing from the public gallery.
Carlow Towns Environs Area Plan will now go on public display and invites further submissions for the next eight weeks.