Athlone Fitness Park welcomed the Minister for Rural and Community Development, Deputy Heather Humphreys, on Friday afternoon last, as the government representative browsed the health and wellness facility noting the beneficial developments which have taken place within the surrounds of the Regional Sports Centre this past two years.
In his capacity as Athlone Deputy Mayor, Cllr Aengus O’Rourke, was present during the Ministerial visit and availed of the opportunity to impress upon Deputy Humphreys the urgent need for government funding to enable the installation of lights at the regularly used fitness park.
“I took the opportunity to walk with Minister Humphrys and Deputy Peter Burke on Friday through our Fitness Park at the Regional Sports Centre and made a plea for government funding to enable the installation of public lights throughout the facility.
“The Ministers were in Athlone to view the fantastic work conducted over the past two years, thanks to State support, on the grounds of the Regional Sports Centre.
“Our Town Fitness Park is getting more day time use than was ever envisaged. My own family use it every day coming and going to the schools in Retreat, it really is a fantastic asset for the town and very convenient for secondary school students attending the three schools in close proximity to the facility.
“I explained to the Ministers that the last piece of the jigsaw for our Town Park is the public lighting piece. The capital investment required to install adequate lighting to cover the entire area of the Fitness Park would be well beyond the reach of the Regional Sports Centre and Westmeath County Council and made it clear to the Ministers that the money must come from central government or the park will never reach its full potential.
“Currently, once darkness falls the park is unusable and that is a shame. I also made the point that now more then ever, particularly in the wake of the tragic murder of Ashling Murphy, individuals are very conscious of their own personal safety.
“Individuals will only use public areas in which they feel safe and that are well lit in the evening time. The Ministers agreed that lighting was needed in the area to complete the park, assuring me that they will consider the matter and have their department officials liaise with council officials to see what funding stream might best accommodate the support needed.
“I will stay in contact with the Ministers to ensure the matter is addressed in the short to medium term,” Cllr O’Rourke stressed.