A decision is expected shortly on whether the go-ahead will be given to build a community centre in Newcastle.
If the project gets the green light, it will bring to an end a 16 year campaign by the residents of Newcastle, Dangan, Circular Road, and Bushypark to have what they describe as an “essential facility” in the area.
The need for a centre was first raised in the 1970s and as the area expanded over the years the residents ran various campaigns to highlight the issue.
Martin Quinn, the PRO of the Newcastle Combined Community Association (NCCA ), outlined this week that the organisation’s application for Government funding is being assessed and a result is expected this autumn.
The need for a community centre has never been greater due to the continued expansion of the area coupled with the lack of a social facility since the Westwood Hotel was demolished, he said.
“Over the years, Newcastle, Dangan and Circular Road have greatly expanded in size with a population now as big, if not bigger than that of Athenry.
“However, the area has always lacked adequate social infrastructure for such a population. This problem was exacerbated with the demolition of the only hotel in the area, the Westwood, to make way for student accommodation. Now there is no bar, hotel, or social facility of any type in the area for residents to meet their neighbours or for associations to meet in.”
Mr Quinn, a former city councillor and mayor of Galway city, said the NCCA CLG, a company with charitable status, was formed to represent the people of the area in their campaign for a community centre.
“Galway City Council leased a site to NCCA 10 years ago. It is located in Moyola Lane, Newcastle, beside the Croí Heart and Stroke Centre and the Educate Together National School. Over the past two years the NCCA Committee has redesigned and enlarged the original drawings to include a building with space for meetings, conferences, a sports hall, a café, and exhibition space for arts or poster presentations.”
The current design also includes a landscaped Third Age garden with walks to cater for the current emphasis on physical activity for different age groups. The site will also feature a playground and an Astro turf pitch for the children and young people of the area.
Mr Quinn said the Galway City Council has granted planning permission for the development and the NCCA is working with its engineers to complete the detailed designs so that the site is “shovel ready”.
The Newcastle Combined Community Association distributed a questionnaire to local residents and organisations over the past two years in a bid to identify the “desired uses” for the centre.
“A community centre for this area has received the unanimous backing of Galway City Council at their meeting in February 2020 as well as the backing of residents’ associations in Newcastle, Dangan, Circular Road, and Bushypark,” stated Martin Quinn.
“Strong support has also been received from NUIG, Croí, Educate Together, Parent Afterschool Care, St Joseph’s Special School, Galway Cathedral parish, Galway Autism, Galway Parenting Network, among many others.”
The NCCA is spearheading a fundraising drive to ensure that the site is ready and that engineering preparations are completed on time. To contribute, go to its webpage www.newcastlecommunity.ie or Newcastle Community Centre Facebook