Athlone councillors have declared their disgust regarding the current state of Portlick Amenity Park.
One of Athlone’s prized natural assets has in recent years become a beacon for late night revellers who have left their mark on the environment there. Speaking on the issue, Councillor Aengus O’Rourke said: “Portlick is a gem in the natural infrastructure of Athlone. It is very popular family and public amenity that has a lot going for it in terms of its ruggedness and natural beauty.
“The whole essence of it is that it has not been interfered with. It is a natural setting, and what was so gutting and disappointing is that it has been so badly abused. The extent of the vandalism, the disgusting nature of what had been left behind once these revellers have had their party and moved on is sickening.”
O’Rourke spoke of walls being damaged, trees cut down, the remnants of campfires everywhere, litter strewn across wide areas, and signage that was previously in a concrete base being pulled out of the ground. “On top of that, there is so much loud noise as cars come and go throughout the night with loud music playing,” he said.
“We cannot allow people to feel as though they can come and go at any hour of the night there, and partake in whatever activity they like while abusing this wonderful resource of ours. I am a father of four young children and we go to Portlick regularly. I would hate for my children to see the damage I saw there becuase it would certainly put them off going back again.”
The councillors have suggested erecting a gate at the site which will prohibit vehicles from entering the area after a certain time: “The difficulty is that cars have been free to drive right up to the edge of the shore,” O’Rourke said. “It is too convenient for them to do so and then go into the forest to do whatever they do”.
Mayor Tom Farrell also tabled a motion concerning the situation unfolding at Portlick. “We need to secure the area,” Farrell said. “There is a convenient place where we can position a gate that will prevent cars from getting down to the shoreline and forest edge. I think that will go a long way to improving the situation. “We can still maintain pedestrian access to the area at all times via a stile at the side of the gate, but cars would be prevented from gaining access.”
“There are young families in the area with children who can hear all the commotion and can’t sleep at night. These people have the right to feel safe in their own homes and to have a good night’s sleep. We intend to nip this in the bud right away before any serious damage is done, because the council has done some great work there as well. It is a really fantastic area and it is there for the whole community to use, but in the right way.”