After 18 years of waiting, debating, planning, and construction, the doors of the new €3 million community centre at Knocknacarra will be open to the public today, Thursday August 22, providing an opportunity to discover first hand the benefits and potential of this local facility.
Now that the work on the long-awaited centre is finally complete, local independent city councillor Donal Lyons is urging organisations, clubs, and other groups in the area to “get on board” by supporting the centre and taking part in the open day which takes place between 2pm and 7pm.
“I am delighted that the people of Knocknacarra will now have an opportunity to view the centre which is a state-of-the-art facility for sporting activities,” said Cllr Lyons, who has been campaigned for many years for such a centre to be provided for the city suburb where the population has grown dramatically over the years without adequate community facilities being in place. However, it is hoped that the new centre, which is due to be fully operational by September, will go some way in addressing these issues, giving local organisations and groups an official top-class venue and further enhancing the activities available to Knocknacarra residents and those living in surrounding areas.
“This has been mooted since 1995 so it has taken 18 years to deliver the centre. The open day will give clubs and organisation as first hand look at the centre, the benefits, and the opportunity to ask questions and book the centre going forward. I would advise them to go and see if it is suitable for their purposes
“There is a spongy type floor there which is ideal for indoor sports but is easily damaged to I have asked the council to provide a special floor covering so that other groups can hold events there. There are also a number of meeting rooms which can be used as rehearsal space for theatre groups, classes, and aerobics,” said Cllr Lyons who further explained that the naming of the centre has yet to be resolved and has been referred to the place name committee. He also noted that as the council will only be managing the centre in the short term there is still concern within the community that the long term operation will go to a profit driven private company.
Inviting community groups and members of the public to attend the open day, director of services with Galway City Council Ciarán Hayes, said that it will be a chance to show off a “state-of-the-art facility” which is “a welcome addition to the existing facilities in Cappagh Park and the adjacent Barna Woods".
Comprising a large multi-functional room, community meeting rooms and a coffee-dock area around a centrepiece sports hall and dressing rooms, Mr Hayes said that the centre will benefit existing groups and sports clubs while also catering for the growth of new clubs. He added: “We want people to view the facility and to see how it can play a positive part in the development of the Knocknacarra area and the wider community. It can cater for everything from small groups looking for a meeting space, amateur drama societies, gymnastics, dance and other classes such as aerobics and Pilates, to the larger and more established sporting activities such as basketball, soccer and badminton. It is a very flexible space”.
The council envisages the centre being able to attract national league basketball games and tournaments, thereby putting it on the national stage, attracting footfall to the venue and contributing to the local economy. “It's a facility of which Knocknacarra and the city can be very proud and it can take its place among the best facilities in the country,” said Mr Hayes.
Staff will be available on the day to demonstrate the centre and its various facilities and features, and light refreshments will be available.