Swimming clubs fear Leisureland to stay closed until 2015

Leisureland swimming pool will remain closed to the public until October or November, meaning Galway’s summing clubs are set for another nine months of having to suspend classes.

Despite previous hopes that the Salthill facility would re-open in September, the works needed in both the pool and changing rooms mean it will be at least October before it can be re-opened. However swimming clubs fear the delay may extend until the start of 2015.

The situation has drawn an angry response from both Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin, with FF Galway City West candidate David Burke demanding the Leisureland board of management “meet immediately and regularly with local swimming clubs” on the situation. SF’s candidate for the ward, Cathal Ó Conchúir, said the Galway City Council should scrap plans to refurbish Leisureland and instead relocate it to “a more suitable site”.

On Monday, Leisureland board members were presented with an update on the remediation works, which outlined that extensive retiling in both pool and changing rooms required the completion date to be extended.

A statement issued by City Hall said Leisureland would remain closed “pending the carrying out of the remedial works”, but that the facility will be “in full operational mode toward the end of the year”.

Independent councillor Donal Lyons, and Leisureland board chaiman, said the board and management apologise to the clubs, teachers, and swimmers who use the facility, but that they are working “as fast as we can to have Leisureland open as soon as possible”. The gym facilities would re-open in July and that the concert hall and meeting rooms remain open for use.

“It is a very slow and painstaking process dealing with insurance companies, assessors, and with the remediation works,” Cllr Lyons said, “September was the original date given, but it will be at least another month after that before we can re-open.”

FF’s David Burke however said the news was “very disappointing for the city’s swimming clubs”.

“The clubs fear it will be January before the pool is actually re-opened,” he said. “This will effect the clubs financially and will impact on a whole new generation of Galway swimmers.”

Cllr Lyons has also refuted speculation that the board of directors will take steps to privatise the pool’s management. “There are no plans whatsoever to privatise the facility,” he said. “The arrangements that were in place prior to the closure will be in operation again once Leisureland re-opens.”

A more radical proposal for Leisureland has come from Sinn Féin’s Cathal Ó Conchúir who said City Hall should scrap plans to refurbish Leisureland, which he described as “an obsolete structure as it currently stands”, and instead relocate the complex to a more suitable site.

He said any new location for Leisureland should be relocated at a safe distance from the shoreline, stand on a more elevated site, and be built as a sustainable facility incorporating eco-friendly features such as solar panels and better insulation.

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