SWIMMING POOL ON THE BACK BURNER
The chairman of the Mitchelstown Leisure Centre committee, Ben Lynch, responding this week to a number of questions posed by The Avondhu in relation to the current state of play on the proposed swimming pool and ancillary developments, has indicated that the prospects for an early start to the project are now on the back burner.
“It is fair to say that the prospects for the development of the Mitchelstown Leisure Centre have receded from where we were a year or so ago.
"This is based on two main factors; firstly, the apparent reluctance on the part of the Department of the Arts, Sport and Tourism to re-open the Local Authority Swimming Pool Programme to new applicants and secondly, the difficulty we would have in achieving a price close to 2007 valuation on the canon’s field.
"We must remember that the proceeds of sale of the canon’s field would still form a huge part of the overall financing of the €9m project,” Mr Lynch told The Avondhu.
The chairman also confirmed that the decision by Cork County Council to refuse planning permission to Cork Marts for their proposed development at George's Street has, unfortunately, ended Cork Marts' commitment to provide an alternative site at a heavily discounted price for the leisure centre.
“We are aware that Cork Marts are assessing all their options for the Mitchelstown site and we await their decision. Likewise, Mitchelstown Leisure Centre group is also assessing the options open to it at present and will inform and consult with the people of Mitchelstown when in a position to do so,” he said.
The last audited figures available for Mitchelstown Community Centre Ltd to 31/03/2008 show a surplus of €48,574 bringing total cash available for the project to €1,811,399.
That surplus is made up as follows; interest on deposit €51,154, rental income €10,420 and outgoings of €13,000. The bulk of the expenses came from insurance €1,290, maintenance of the old priest’s houses €3,690, professional fees €1,936 and a contribution of €5,000 towards the Mitchelstown playground.
The chairman further confirmed that all the funds are held on fixed term deposits and that no investment was made in a form which might have incurred losses.
On the question of the grant programme, Mr Lynch continued, “The dept has completed a policy review programme and this recommends the re-opening of the programme to new applicants, with a grant limit of €4m per project. That said, the responses to enquiries made to the department suggest that it will not happen any time soon.
"It is a sobering to remember that the grant scheme remained closed to new applicants during the boom years so the Government’s commitment to its own policy must be seriously questioned, particularly in the current climate. Still, so long as the grant programme remains ‘live’ we must presume that when government finances stabilise the fund will eventually re-open.”
In conclusion, Ben Lynch added, “Mitchelstown needs a leisure centre more than ever, just as we need a lot of other infrastructure to make our town more attractive as a place to live and as a location for investment.”
Thursday 26th March 6:41pm