Progress urged on skatepark and youth café

Mullingar councillors are being asked to come up with a potential location for a skatepark in the town.

Cllrs Aidan Davitt and Ruth Illingworth are calling for the provision of a skatepark and a youth cafe to cater for local youngsters.

The council’s senior executive officer Declan Leonard said that the primary issues in establishing a skatepark are to locate a suitable venue, and to identify the funding to make it happen, as a park could cost over €100,000.

Cllr Davitt said the facilities are needed “to serve the adolescent generation”.

“Kids from nine or 10 up to 15 at the moment are down at Penneys with skateboards, they are up on the wall and it’s very dangerous. There are seven or eight kids skateboarding there on a regular basis,” said Cllr Davitt.

“I appreciate that there’s quite a bit of money involved, but we are putting money into playgrounds and maybe it’s time to divert money into this; instead of the next playground we could look at this.”

He added that the blame for the shortage of funding “lies at Minister Phil Hogan’s door”.

“I’ve been at four or five RAPID meetings and there is still no decision. If Minister Hogan is getting rid of RAPID areas and there is no funding, at least we would know. A year will pass and we will be none the wiser.”

Cllr Illingworth said there is continued interest in skateboarding among young people, despite concern when she first raised the issue in 2005 that it might be a passing fad.

“We should talk to the skateboarders and see what ideas they have for a location; preferably it should be within walking distance, possibly around the edges of one of the business parks or industrial estates.”

She also urged the council to support the setting up of a youth café.

“We want to keep youngsters occupied and give them a place they can care for and be safe. There are quite a number of empty premises up and down the town.”

Meanwhile Cllr Ken Glynn suggested modelling the skatepark on one in Westport, and said there was huge support for the youth café.

“Both projects are vital for the community. At election time one of the biggest issues is facilities for young people,” he said.

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