The Department of Defence confirmed this week (August 7 ) that the Camp Field is up for sale, but would not confirm if any offers had been received as yet.
A spokesman for Westmeath County Council said he was aware of this but that: “at the current time the council has no interest to acquire the Camp Field”.
Last week the Advertiser highlighted the recent increase in anti-social behaviour at the 12 acre (4.85 Ha ) former barracks sports ground since the 4th Field Artillery Regiment was re-billeted to Custume Barracks in Athlone on March 28.
The Department of Defence engaged a private security firm to protect the 200-year-old, Grade 1-listed barracks, but found it was unable to control the increased levels of trespass and anti-social behaviour in the Camp Field.
Because of this, the Department decided to erect a 3m-high, galvanised, palisade fence around the entirety of its perimeter in June at a reputed cost of €190,000.
“The fencing was erected as part of security measures taken in the barracks, and the integrity of the fencing continues to be monitored on an ongoing basis. The Department [of Defence] is aware of some anti-social activity in the area and where required has taken appropriate measures,” said a spokesperson.
“The barracks remains in the ownership of the Minister for Defence. It is proposed to dispose of this property, including the Camp Field with the proceeds being used to fund the upgrading of Defence Forces equipment and infrastructure,” they added.
“In the first instance all Government departments have been canvassed to see if they, or any of their agencies wish to acquire the property. Following that process, the property, if still remaining, will be disposed of, taking account of the market conditions so as to maximise the return to the Defence Forces”.
However, the spokesperson would not be drawn on whether any interest in the Camp Field had been shown by the private sector.
“What could you do with it?” asked a sceptical local resident who has been recently troubled by the upsurge in the anti-social behaviour.
“You couldn’t build on it for 20 years. There’s no building now. I mean, they’re selling sites now for less than it cost to build the house,” he added.
“There is still the same frequency of trespass. That fence is of absolutely no benefit. It’s not making any difference,” he said.