A decision on whether to locate a skatepark in Mullingar Town Park will be made by the council in the coming weeks, amid concerns that the facility could attract antisocial behaviour.
A number of submissions were received by the council on the proposed location for the skatepark, including from the Annebrook House Hotel and Mullingar Tennis and Badminton Club, both of whom were concerned about noise levels, visual intrusion, and antisocial behaviour.
The tennis club also had concerns about the impact on access to its own facilities.
However the council’s director of services David Hogan said research indicates that skateparks do not tend to generate antisocial behaviour, and that CCTV on the swimming pool and Garda CCTV would help to provide surveillance in the area.
“It is the most suitable location for such a facility. Concerns about antisocial behaviour will not materialise,” he said, recommending that councillors visit a similar facility in Tullamore which he said was adjacent to a bowling green used by elderly people, and there has been no evidence of antisocial behaviour.
He added that concerns about visual impact could be addressed with fencing and hedges around the skatepark.
Cllr Ken Glynn said it was “an exciting project for the young people of Mullingar”, while councillors also felt it was important to address the views of those who had submitted concerns about the facility.
While the original plan was to locate the skatepark in the proposed Robinstown sports complex, the council has secured funding that must be used by October; however the Robinstown complex is still several years away.
Manager of the Annebrook House Hotel, Berty Dunne, said that while he has no objections to a skatepark for the town, he does have concerns that it will attract antisocial behaviour, particularly as the town park is open 24 hours a day.
He is also concerned that a skatepark would affect brides and grooms who use the town park for wedding photos.
“I would have concerns about noise levels which could interrupt business. I’m not against the skatepark, I just think the location is wrong. There are no public toilet facilities planned. I spoke to a councillors in Naas [where a skatepark is being built] - the skatepark is not open yet and already it is destroyed with graffiti and litter.
“If anyone has any concerns they should get in touch with their local councillor, as they will have the final say on it,” he added.
Mullingar councillors are to meet before the next full council meeting to tease out some of the issues and decide whether to recommend that the council give the skatepark the green light.