THE Newtownabbey Way has been hailed “as a fantastic resource” for the local community.
Guests at the official opening of the walking and cycling route said it will bring real benefits in terms of people’s health and wellbeing, as well as providing an excellent educational resource for local schoolchildren.
Pupils from a number of local schools already work with the council’s Biodiversity Officer on environmental projects such as clean-ups and tree planting at various locations along the pathway.
Stephen McConkey, Principal of Hollybank Primary School, commented: “The path runs right past our school in the middle of Monkstown and our children are able to cross the bridge onto the path, walk down towards Whiteabbey and take part in environmental work and educational work along the route.
“It’s a great asset for the school and for the area.
“It’s an excellent educational resource for ourselves and all the other schools that border the pathway.”
Echoing that point, Raymond Smyth, Principal of Earlview Primary said: “To have such a brilliant outdoor educational resource on our doorstep is great.
“We will try to use it as much as possible as it is good to get outdoors in the fresh air and also helps us all to keep fit.”
Representatives of local community organisations who attended last week’s launch were also impressed with the new link between Mossley, Monkstown and Whiteabbey.
Alan Johnston, of Monkstown Community Forum, commented: “It’s excellent in terms of providing opportunities for folk to exercise, to join up communities and to use the facilities that are plotted along the path.
“It brings not just a social, but also an economic benefit.”
Margaret King of Whiteabbey Community Group added: “It’s lovely. It’s nice to have seen the pathway as it has been developed.
“It’s good facility that will enable people to get out walking, get some exercise and meet other people, and I think that’s a good thing for the community.”
Jack Shaw, Chairman of New Mossley Community Group, described the new facility as “absolutely fantastic” and great for people of all ages.
“I’m now actually thinking about getting a bike and having a go at this, which is something I would never have thought about.
“But when you see the way it is - the design of it and the nature around it - it’s a fantastic place to spend some time with the grandchildren and the family,” he told the Times.