Amibitions to develop facilities in Ballina to make the town a major running, walking and cycling destination, similar to west Mayo’s Greenway, got a boost yesterday (Thursday ).
The Department of Tourism and Sport announced funding of close to €60,000 to resurface the existing running track at Belleek.
A second project to develop a tennis/basketball court and multi-use games area in Swinford will also get €58,824.
The funding will bring Ballina a step closer to having a running track that meets competetive standards, which would bring atheltics competitions and events to the town and make it a regional centre for athletics.
The track will also complement plans to develop a greenway route between Ballina and Killala, and hopefully mirror the success of west Mayo in bringing running, cycling and walking enthusiasts and tourists to the town.
Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring, said work on the projects is expected to get underway early in the New Year.
The projects are co-funded by his department with IPB Insurance and local authorities.
Speaking about the funding boost for Swinford, Minister Ring said: “I believe this will be a great asset in Swinford. I have no doubt that when complete, it will be very well-used by the community.”
Deputy Michelle Mulherin said the funding for Ballina’s running track is very welcome.
“There is a massive interest in running and walking in and around Ballina, nurtured in particular by Ballina Athletic Club's Fit for Life,” she said.
“This funding for the track represents an investment in recreational and sporting amenities for our area, giving the track regional significance and status and it will tie in very well with the proposed development of the Monasteries of the Moy Greenway project, which will pass near Belleek Forest and the running track.
“Also, with Ballina Town Council looking set to put some funding towards the project this grant will be the catalyst for the development of a competitive standard running track which will be a great asset for the town.”
A feasability report on developing a Greenway for Ballina is currently underway.