Prom walk is first step to a brighter future

Hundreds of people braved the cold weather to walk the prom. Pics: Steve Brown
Hundreds of people braved the cold weather to walk the prom. Pics: Steve Brown

Long-term project holds key to revitalising Kirkcaldy town centre

The success of Kirkcaldy’s new-look Prom and the interest it has sparked should be built on to help regenerate the waterfront area.

And the aim should be to make the whole Esplanade area a visitor destination rather than just a through road, with tourist attractions, public artwork and even funfair rides, shops and cafes.

That’s the view of the Kirkcaldy’s Ambitions Group set up to deliver innovative ideas to boost the town centre.

And it is backed by Councillor Neil Crooks, chairman of Fife Council’s Kirkcaldy area committee, and Danny Cepok, area services manager for Kirkcaldy, who agree that the waterfront is one of the town’s unsung assets.

A paper has already been produced with many creative ideas to bring the waterfront to life – from the Basin to the harbour – and also to tap in to the huge use of the sea walk by keep-fit enthusiasts and walkers.

Like any project, it may take years to deliver fully – but the determination is there to finally make the most of the town’s stunning natural asset.

Groundbreaking new ideas including permanent fairground attractions such as a big wheel or a helter skelter; a funfair museum reflecting the town’s Links Market connections; employing an artist in residence to come up with eyecatching artworks to bring more visitors to the area, and ideas such as waterside cafes and pubs.

The first towards the long-term goals mark is a feasibility study to look at cutting the dual carriageway to one lane either way – opening up a huge area for potential development.

The Council’s transportation department will report back early in 2015 with an indication of the costs involved.

Cllr Crooks said: “The dual carriageway definitely needs to go and we can use some of that space to provide leisure opportunities and surface car parking – and the feasibility study on these options is imminent.”

But he wants to go further and explore the many ideas tabled by the Ambitions group.

The waterfront is seen as a blank canvas – one that could, in the long term, really develop the town centre.

Cllr Crooks added: “I would like to see the waterfront reflecting our strong international connections, from the Italian ice cream and fish and chip family heritage through Chinese and Indian restauranteurs and, of course, our post-war Polish and German connections. It would be great to see these country’s flags along the waterfront with food outlets operating during the summer at points along the Prom.’’

Kirkcaldy’s centuries-old Links Market could also be celebrated with permanent funfair rides – there has been talk of a Big Wheel or Helter Skelter – as well as a train ride taking people from Morrisons to the heart of the town.

Public art is seen as key to celebrate the town’s rich creative links, and the waterfront is a natural place for health and fitness.

“Races along the prom, marking off distances, more seating and bins, more events and even an outdoor green gym have all been suggested for the Volunteers Green area,” added Cllr Crooks. ‘‘Artists from around the globe should also be encouraged to Kirkcaldy waterfront to capture the changing faces of that spectacular view of Edinburgh and the Lothians across the Firth of Forth.

“The ideas are endless but there is a determination in the townsfolk to effect and influence this change.”

Danny Cepok, area services manager for Kirkcaldy, described the ideas as “exciting”.

“At the moment, the Esplanade is used by walkers, joggers and cyclists, but just as a road to go through. What we really want to see happen is for it to become a destination – a family day out or a place to go and meet friends and have a coffee and enjoy the views and other activities on offer.

“It won’t happen overnight but, with the feasibility study, we can draw up our priorities and start trying to find the money to do what we want to do.

“It is all about building on what we have here already.

“Throughout this process, one of the things we have said is that, although we are ambitious, we are also realistic.

“We want to push the boundaries and we are looking at the best possible ideas for Kirkcaldy without getting too carried away.

“There’s a positive future ahead for our waterfront.”

Prom re-opening goes with a bang!

Hundreds of hardy souls braved the cold to give a warm welcome back to Kirkcaldy’s renovated promenade on Sunday.

Following the official Council unveiling of the original plaque in the centre of the landmark, the unofficial Prom Walk featuring dozens of walkers, runners, rowers, swimmers and strollers took part in a walk along the 1.8 km long prom in an event set off by a gun fired by the Army Reserves out over the Forth. Kirkcaldy and District Pipe Band and the New Generation Twirlettes, a local majorette group, led the way, followed by people of all ages who turned out in force, despite icy winds, to take part in the event organised by local women Christine May and Ann Wood.

Members of the Kinghorn Coastal Rowing Club rowed a length of the prom with members of the North Queensferry Coastal Rowing Club who lent their boat for the event, and the Fife Wild Swimmers and Glenrothes Triathlon Club.

Christine said: “Thanks to everyone who made this such a huge success.

“Now that we have our waterfront restored, let’s look after it, and let’s use it.”