Skatepark gets go-ahead for town park

Mullingar’s new skatepark is set to be up and running in the Town Park before the end of October.

Meeting this deadline means €78,000 in ring-fenced funding won’t be lost as was previously feared.

It follows a decision taken earlier this week at Westmeath County Council’s monthly meeting to adopt a Part VIII planning report following public consultation.

There were three objections to the plans which were advertised in April - one from a resident, one from a local hotelier concerned about loss of visual amenity, and one from a sports club relating to an access point.

Concerns were raised about noise and anti-social behaviour, said Declan Leonard who presented the report to the elected members and recommended that they accept it.

He said access issues have been agreed with the sports club and hedging will be erected to facilitate the hotel.

Cllr Ken Glynn, who has pushed the project for several years, warmly proposed the project to his colleagues.

It was seconded by Cllr Andrew Duncan, who said anything that encourages young people to get involved in activity has to be encouraged, but he also said it’s important that adequate and mature screening be put in place to make the skatepark invisible from the hotel.

“It’s a substantial employer, we can’t impinge on that,” he said of the hotel’s visual amenity issue.

Cllr Kevin Boxer Moran said the worst possible thing is to screen off a skatepark because a confined area will lead to antisocial behaviour.

However, he said a park is a great idea and “you’d be amazed at the number of kids who’ll use it”.

Mr Leonard confirmed the fencing will be just 1.2m high, substantially less than was erected in Athlone, and is simply in place on the hotel side to protect the view.

Cllr Aidan Davitt congratulated Mr Leonard and council staff on the extensive work undertaken to bring the project this far but wanted an assurance that dialogue will continue with parties affected by the construction of the park.

“We’re very proud of our Town Park and we’ll keep it to a high standard,” Mr Leonard said, adding that consultation will continue as issues arise.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Glynn said “This is boys and girls, this is everybody’s sons and daughters. They’re entitled to have a facility the same as everybody else. Not everybody is into football and hurling.

This is just another facility,” he said, adding that the Tullamore skatepark is beside a bowling green and near a playground.

“The whole thing about the Part VIII is that it’s open and transparent,” he said, acknowledging the contribution made by the three objectors.

“They brought issues to the attention of the executive, the council, and the councillors and we’ve been assured by the executive that a number of those issues have been dealt with and for that reason we’ve given it the go-ahead today.”

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