COUNCILLORS are being asked to back a proposal to build a 25-metre indoor public pool in Newcastle West to replace the outdoor Dean O’Brien pool which was closed in the 1990s.
Members of the steering committee backing the project were due to address the Newcastle West Municipal District last week but the meeting was deferred until September.
“We want the councillors to back the proposal,” Mike Dwane, one of the steering committee members told the Limerick Leader. “If the councillors don’t back it, the chief executive Conn Murray can’t back it and we won’t get the grant.”
Last April, the Limerick Leader reported on a feasibility study into the project which concluded there was an unmet need in Newcastle West and its catchment area for a publicly owned pool and multi-purpose facility. And it singled out the Desmond Complex site as the most suitable for such a project.
“A serviced site is available north of the Desmond Complex and parking is already in place at the complex,” Mr Dwane pointed out.
Five different companies were involved in drafting the feasibility report and they looked at three possible sites: the Desmond Complex, a site in Killeline and a site in the Demesne.
The Desmond Complex site was judged to be the most suitable, with the Killeline site the least suitable because of drainage issues. However, following the proposal to develop an athletics track in Newcastle West, a separate feasibility study is to be carried out, which will also look at the Killeline site.
Meanwhile Mr Dwane believes that because a serviced site is available, gratis, at the Desmond Complex, this will help reduce the overall cost of the project.
Refurbishing and incorporating the old, open-air Dean O’Brien pool which closed in the 1990s would save only €50-55,000 from the total capital costs, the authors of the feasibility study say.
Their plans for the complex include a four-lane, 25-metre pool with a viewing capacity for 100 people, a training and fitness gym, a health suite which would include a sauna and other facilities as well as changing rooms and a reception area. They also suggest the complex should be linked to other sport facilities such as a five-a-side soccer pitch to maximise use.
But they predicted that the proposed pool and leisure complex could generate income of up to €1m a year and generate a profit of over €163,000 in its third year of operation.
Their figures are based on a local catchment population of 18,994 as well as on the numbers of sports clubs in the area and, crucially, the number of schools. The report points out that there are 29 primary schools within a 16km radius with 3,267 pupils and a further five post-primary schools with 2,648 students.
“There is no direct competition from swimming pools and gyms in the catchment area,” the report states. “The closest pools to Newcastle West are located in Killeline Leisure (a private commercial members club with only a 18metre pool) in Newcastle West.”
The Fitzgerald’s Woodlands Hotel Leisure Club in Adare and Askeaton Pool and Leisure Complex are both approximately 24 km away, the report adds. “It is difficult to assess the precise impact (if any) a new public swimming pool would have on Killeline Leisure or Askeaton Leisure Centre, as most swimmers are casual users so information is not kept on casual users to show where they are coming from, but we do not believe that Askeaton would be adversely affected,” the report continues. The facility in Askeaton is majority-owned by Limerick City and County Council but run by a private company.
The new proposed facility for Newcastle West “can cater for a range of activities not currently possible at Killeline Leisure”, the report adds.
The report can be read in Newcastle West library or online at www.limerick.ie