The Scene in Derry: ACTION!; US Research Team Seeks Ways to Revive Waterside

Article excerpt

A T LAST some fresh ac- tion! Hot on the heels of my calls for some positive measures to be taken to jet rocket the fastly- fading Waterside into the 21st century with a vengeance a team of US researchers has arrived in the Foyle's east bank to begin a research project on the regeneration of the Waterside.

Not before time. Almost daily now the Waterside is becoming more and more run down, the Safeways/Wellworths building closure was practically the last straw.

Now a long overdue Waterside Action Plan is being formulated by the researchers from the University of Massachusetts who have teamed up with Magee College's Faculty of Business and Management.

Boston researcher Jennifer Phelan said: ''Producing the Waterside Action Plan will take a lot of hard work and research and we have a full schedule of meetings and presentations with community groups and opinion formers but it's great to be here in your lovely city.''

Fellow researcher Brigid Ryan added: ''It's a great opportunity for us to share our knowledge with the people of Derry as well as to promote international learning and offer a global perspective on the challenges and opportunities the city faces.''

During their 10-week stay here the students from the University of Massachusetts' Amherst campus will help the Town Centre Management draw up the Waterside regeneration blueprint. The Waterside Action Plan will be ready by August 6.

The trans-Atlantic project was arranged by Tony Johnston, of Magee College's School of Commerce and International Business, who said: ''The results of this research will be invaluable to the University, local communities, statutory and voluntary bodies and the city as a whole.''

While in Londonderry, the US research team say they also want to look at how the North West city can be said to be the victim of a cycle of economic under-achievement despite its highly skilled and educated workforce.

The researchers too will address the specific planning issues facing the North West and also develop strategies to drive Londonderry's progress in the new Millennium.

Town Centre Manager Cliodha Mulhern said that her organisation is delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate with the University of Massachusetts and its students.

WHAT a year it has been here for influential US visitors!

Senator Edward Kennedy - who gave one of the finest political speeches I've heard in recent years at the Guildhall and who also promised Protestants during that high profile visit to look more deeply into their flight in their thousands from the west bank to the Waterside over the past couple of decades - started the trend at the start of the year.

This was followed by US Commerce Secretary Bill Daley two weeks ago. Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, tipped by many to become the next US President, is coming here in August and in the Autumn flamboyant New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani hits town. …