THE multi-million pounds Omagh Accessible Shared Inclusive Space (OASIS) Plaza project – situated at Drumragh Avenue – was officially opened on Wednesday (17).
Costing approximately £4.5 million, the project was unveiled a year after work had begun on the site.
It now boasts an open space which can accommodate up to 2,000 people with a stage area, outdoor gym, seating area and interactive equipment, including a TV bolder screen showing a time lapse video of the Oasis construction process.
Below the Plaza the Drumragh Avenue Car Park has been upgraded and refurbished, and is handed over to Fermanagh and Omagh District Council with 157 spaces.
It will operate by Pay and Display.
The project sparked local controversy last year when the installation of a new pedestrian bridge across the River Strule led many to complain it has created an ‘eyesore’ on the Omagh landscape.
However, speaking at the official opening, the chairman of Omagh and Fermanagh Council, Thomas O’Reilly, described the project as “iconic and unique.”
“The project has literally transformed the riverside,” he said. “The plaza will provide a safe, open and neutral space contributing to a shared society, increasing opportunities for integration through work, recreation and play.”
Alison McCullagh, director of regeneration and planning at the Omagh and Fermanagh District Council, said the “very challenging project” had been a long time coming since it was first discussed in 2007.
She added, “However, I do hope it has been a rewarding project. The primary intention was about developing a shared space of reflection and revitalising a site which had been only used for car parking.”
With a core ethos of peace and reconciliation, local schools from Omagh joined together to sign peace pledges which will be put on display in the plaza in Autumn.
Willie Dornan from McAdam Designers, who were responsible for the design said, “There has been a lot of difficult consultations throughout which I feel has led to the development of what we have today.
“If you look around you won’t find many projects like this.”
Enda Shields from project contractors FP McCann added, “It’s been a challenging job from start to finish. It’s a complex scheme in a tight site, but we are now looking forward to seeing the public use it for the way it has been designed.”
This weekend the new Oasis project saw the first influx of visitors as it welcomed the All Ireland National cycling championships.
The Oasis Plaza is now open to the public.