Viability of enhanced sports centre swimming pool facilities proposed

The viability of a second swimming pool at Athlone Regional Sports Centre has been broached my members of the Municipal District, with elected representatives pressing upon the local authority to complete a feasibility study to determine if the addition of such a facility would be of benefit to the local community and enhance the growth town’s tourism product.

Addressing the issue, Cllr. John Dolan, noted that the present swimming pool was almost at usage capacity and noted that it would be of immense benefit to complete a feasibility study to determine the viability of a second facility at the sports centre.

“Necessary funding is available from the Department of Tourism and Sport and we should prepare an application pertaining to a feasibility study in this regard. A second swimming pool would benefit the local community but also greatly enhance our tourism offering and I would call on the local authority for support in this regard with an application to be made by mid April,” Cllr. Dolan commented.

Speaking in support of his colleague, Cllr. Aengus O’Rourke, noted that the sports centre were unfortunately turning away potential custom as the swimming pool facility was fast approaching maximum capacity.

“I firmly believe this feasibility study is warranted. The National Aquatic Centre in Dublin is listed in the top five visitor attractions in our country. We should be in a position to have a similar offering in the centre of the country going forward,” Cllr. O’Rourke remarked.

With plans afoot to develop a similar swimming facility in Mullingar presently, Cllr. Hogan noted that while focus was on this development, the local authority should still support the need for a feasibility study at Athlone Regional Sports Centre.

“As a Municipal District, we should take bold steps to enhance our product offering from a local and tourism perspective and if a funding stream is available from the relevant Government department, then we should make a relevant application,” the Independent Councillor stated.

The development of an outdoor fitness park and the replacement of the current astro turf surface is imminently planned for the sports centre, but Town Mayor, Cllr. Frankie Keena, noted that while both Athlone and Mullingar should not be competing for recreational facilities, Athlone, as a regional growth centre should be seeking to continually deliver a first class recreational service to locals and visitors to the town.

Director of Services, Barry Kehoe, noted that such an undertaking should it proceed in the future would require major capital investment with the focus at present on the provision of a swimming facility in Mullingar.

“This feasibility study motion would need to be addressed at a Westmeath County Council meeting as it does not fall under the remit of Athlone Municipal District in my view and presently, I do not wish to undermine the ongoing process in Mullingar,” the Director of Services suggested.

Reiterating his staunch view, Cllr. John Dolan called for a commitment to the feasibility study, noting that detailed preparatory work would need to be completed in the coming weeks to meet with the Government Department application deadline.

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