LEISURE PLAN LEAVES MANY DISAPPOINTED
A number of local community and sporting groups have this week expressed disappointment following the release of the consultant’s report into the proposed development of a leisure centre facility at the canon’s field in Mitchelstown, writes Brian Moore.
Representatives from social and sporting groups gathered on Monday night last at The Firgrove Hotel for a public meeting to discuss the report. As the meeting got underway chairman, Ben Lynch, took the opportunity to react to comments reported in The Avondhu last week. "As for the suggestion that the report should have been sent to every home, I find such a demand completely outrageous.”
“The report was published online and available for anyone to download and in 2009 this is more than possible for people to do. As to comments made by the youth committee that the consultants did not contact them after they made their submission, why didn’t the youth committee contact the consultants as other groups did?
"The report in The Avondhu did not inform the public but rather sniped at the work of the leisure committee which only wants the best for Mitchelstown,” Mr Lynch told the meeting.
Mr Gar Holohan of Holohan Leisure Group then outlined the proposed plan for the development of the canon’s field.
“Firstly I would like to commend all those who made submissions, all of them were excellently prepared and presented. My brief was that the community should lead this project and that is what we have set out to achieve. The centre must be financially viable and self sufficient and also adaptable to the current and future needs of the community,” Mr Holohan said. He then went on to outline the plan for the canon’s field.
“The proposed facilities for the Mitchelstown Leisure Complex will create a huge opportunity to develop and provide a wide range of sports, recreation, arts and social programmes for the entire community of the town and environs”.
“The quality, mix and scale of the various elements proposed are based on the ‘evaluation criteria’ set down by the local community representatives during the consultation process,” Mr Holohan said.
The plan for the leisure centre as put forward to the meeting includes the following facilities - a multi purpose sports hall, a multi purpose activity hall, fitness suite storage and changing rooms, a foyer/reception, a cafe, meeting room and hot desk area, centre admin offices, staff/first aid room and two outdoor floodlit multi games areas.
“The quality of the 20 submissions received was exceptionally high, and it’s regrettable that some good proposals did not meet the agreed ‘evaluation criteria’ within which we had to work. In the current economic climate, exceptional value could be achieved if the project is advanced without further delay,” Mr Holohan concluded.
Questions from the floor followed with the youth group expressing their disappointment that there was not to be a dedicated youth cafe at the leisure centre.
“I am very disappointed that once again the youth of Mitchelstown have been sidelined. This report brings nothing new to the youth, I also note that while the proposed centre will not be dedicated to any one group, many of the facilities outlined are already available in the town,” Ailbe Coleman of the youth committee told the meeting.
Cllr Frank O’Flynn, who is also on the youth committee, spoke of his disappointment at the report, “I am surprised that the youth committee’s request for a youth cafe to be incorporated in the new centre is not to be accommodated. I think it is time for the leisure centre committee to go back to the drawing board and include a youth cafe in the plan for the canon’s field,” Cllr O’Flynn said.
A heated exchange followed between community activist Timmy ‘Rancher’ White and chairman, Ben Lynch, concerning the publication of the report on the web and the fact that there were no copies of the report available at the meeting for those who were attending.
“The people of Mitchelstown worked hard and gave their money to the leisure centre committee, they have a right to know how their money is going to be used,” Timmy White said.
Representatives for Mitchelstown Tennis Club were also disappointed to learn that their submission for tennis courts to be included in the centre had also been rejected because of the gradient of the site, which would mean an increase in financial supports to make the area suitable.
Chairman of the Mitchelstown Forum, Tom Whelton, was left disappointed as the forum’s submission for an enterprise centre at the site was also rejected.
“We are disappointed that the enterprise centre will not be included in the proposal but we are only too aware of the financial restrictions,” Mr Whelton said.
When asked how much the leisure centre as laid out in the published report would cost to run on a yearly basis, Mr Holohan said he could not answer this question at this point but a business plan would be the next step for the project and this would deal with running costs etc.
Ben Lynch then closed the meeting saying that, “The leisure centre committee will now take the report and the comments made here tonight and move forward with the plan for the canon’s field.”
Speaking to The Avondhu after the meeting Mr Lynch said he was happy with the constructive feedback.
“The report was well thought out and reflected the criteria agreed at a previous meeting to which all the groups and individuals that made submissions were invited. The results were never going to please everyone. There is a limited pot of money and a massive dearth of community amenities. There was a lot in the recommendations for everyone, but no one group is entitled to exclusivity to the detriment of others. All facilities will, by necessity, have to be shared.
"Overall, the meeting was constructive and I feel Gar Holohan gave well thought out replies, which reflected his many years in the leisure and amenity businesses. Next step will be taken as soon as the leisure group meets to consider the report and the outputs at the public meeting. We intend maintaining the momentum so that we will deliver a community resource that everyone in Mitchelstown will be proud of,” Mr Lynch said.
Thursday 17th December 5:35pm