A new partnership model is being proposed for Robinstown as a way of advancing plans for a sports complex for the area.
The new plan revealed by outgoing county manager Dan McLoughlin this week aims to partner educational and recreational needs by providing shared facilities between the planned sports complex and new primary and secondary schools proposed for the area.
While the original proposal was for a 20-acre complex incorporating leisure centre and several sports pitches, the new proposal would involve the sharing of a sports hall and pitches between a new secondary school and the wider community.
It would incorporate a pool complex, external tennis and basketball courts, full GAA pitch, two all-weather five-a-side pitches, a 1,000 pupil post-primary school and 16-classroom primary school, in addition to the existing sports ground.
The Department of Education has already identified a need for both primary and secondary schools in the area, and this partnership concept has been agreed in principle with the Department.
Mr McLoughlin said the proposed solution would make a quality leisure facility available adjacent to schools, and would offer significant economies of scale in terms of project design, tendering, and construction costs.
The project was praised by councillors as Mr McLoughlin’s “parting legacy”.
Cllr Aidan Davitt complimented the manager on his vision, saying the development could “make Mullingar the sports capital of the Midlands and create synergy between all the clubs”.
Several members suggested that the site would be an ideal location for a new school for Mullingar Community College, including Cllrs Mick Dollard and Ken Glynn who pointed out that the community college is the only secondary school in Mullingar which does not presently have a gym facility. Cllr Glynn said he also hoped the proposed skatepark would be incorporated into the proposal.
Meanwhile Cllr Avril Whitnesy praised the manager for the “tweaking that has been done to make it more realistic”. While she was concerned that the provision of a new primary school in the Robinstown area would squeeze numbers out of other local schools, Mr McLoughlin assured her there was a need for both the primary and secondary schools in the coming years.
“The number of kids coming up is unreal; the Department is very conscious of the figures, and is confident that the Ardmore school, this [primary] school, and a secondary school are required,” he said.
The proposal for the combined sporting and educational facilities at Robinstown is to be incorporated as part of the Mullingar Town Development Plan.