THE local group campaigning for a new, indoor 25m swimming pool in Newcastle West has thrown down the gauntlet to local councillors in advance of a public meeting in the town. They must declare their position, the chairman of the Newcastle West Pool committee, Mike Duane said this week.
Last year, Mr Duane pointed out, a feasibility study costing €20,000 had concluded there was a need for such a facility in the town. But instead of accepting the study, councillors and management had agreed that further research should be carried out into the impact the proposed pool might have on any public or private pools in the area.
Mr Duane has rejected this position as a waste of money. “The findings of the feasibility stand. There wouldn’t be any major impact on any other pools,” he said.
“It is about giving people a choice. Why would you deny a swimming pool to the 20,000 people within the catchment area of Newcastle West?” he argued.
“We go with the findings. Let any councillor who has reservations come out and state them openly,” Mr Duane added. “It is time they faced the public.”
Despite the fact that councillors had agreed more research needed to be carried out, nothing had happened since that decision was taken last autumn, according to Mr Duane. No money has been allocated to carry out the research and nobody has been commissioned to do it.
“Is there another agenda?” he asked, adding that he was perturbed that meetings were being held behind closed doors and without consulting the pool committee.
“If we do nothing things will happen against us,” he continued, explaining that the pool committee has now decided to call a public meeting which will take place in the Desmond Complex on Monday, July 11 at 7.30pm.
They have invited political representatives to the meeting where they will outline the findings of the feasibility study. Among its findings was that the Desmond Complex site would be the most suitable for the proposed pool, estimated to cost €5.23m.
“We have the site,” Mr Duane said, pointing out that land to the rear of the complex had been donated free for the pool. The proposal includes the filling in of the old Dean O’Brien pool and the development of a woodchip heat generating system which would provide heat to homes in the area.
The report was compiled in 2013 but only made public last year.