Green light for new Cusack Park could be secured before Christmas

Architects contracted by the county board to design the new €3.5m main stand at Cusack Park confirmed they could be applying for planning permission before this year’s county championship is completed.

“We’d like it to go to planning within four to six weeks, but definitely within two months,” said consulting architect Patrick Murphy.

If this was the case, then a decision from the county planners could be expected within another two months, assuming all went well.

However, Mr Murphy did caution that this was no indication as to when the construction of the new stand might be started, as the county board would still have five years in which to do this from the date of any permission granted.

“It [construction] is still only notional before funding is secured from central council, but as they’re playing with the big boys now [Westmeath footballers have just been promoted to Division 1] the county board would like a stand to match their new found status,” he added.

In the week that saw the Westmeath GAA become anchor tenant in Columb Barracks as its central training facility, the progressive county board chairman Sean Sheridan has helped cement the future of gaelic games with the progression of the county ground’s renovation.

At a recent meeting of the county board Mr Sheridan was at pains to reassure Laker Gaels that this would not be going ahead without funding from the central council in Croke Park, and stressed: “No clubs will be asked for any levies, and we won’t be putting Westmeath GAA into debt”.

The county board will put its case for funds to the GAA’s national infrastructure committee on August 28, after which the future of the ground will be a lot clearer.

The new stand will see an addition of just 500 seats, bringing the ground’s capacity to 11,500, but more importantly, it will double the number of patrons under cover to 3,000 at the 80-year-old ground.

The ground originally had a 15,000 capacity, but this was reduced to 14,000 after its 1992 facelift, and again to 11,000 after a health and safety review by the GAA two years ago.

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