WITH plans for a new soccer stadium at the Markets Field due shortly, city councillors say the applicants should be obliged to build a community centre in neighbouring Garryowen.
JP McManus last year bought the lands at the Markets Field from the Irish Greyhound Board in order to move Limerick FC from Jackman Park to its spiritual home.
Now, with an application due in the coming weeks, councillors have demanded to know why they have not been included in pre-planning meetings with Limerick FC – and some have indicated they want to see the applicants build a community centre in Garryowen.
With almost 2,000 houses, the estate is one of the few areas without such a centre. Fianna Fail councillor Kieran O’Hanlon said the community should be involved in consultation, especially as it is they who will bear the brunt of potentially thousands of spectators attending the Markets Field.
He also said the City VEC, which has an educational facility in the area, and the Limerick College of Further Education should be involved in discussions. This was backed by Fine Gael councillor Ger Fahy.
“It is totally unacceptable they do not have a community centre. When these plans come in, we must tell them there is a community of 3,000 people who want a centre there,” said Cllr O’Hanlon.
Deputy Mayor Kevin Kiely noted Garryowen “is the only part of the city without a community centre”.
Labour’s southside councillor Joe Leddin warned the alleged lack of consultation with members is “the wrong road to go down”, and could lead to “a rocky road” for Limerick FC.
“I was some bit surprised to learn plans were about to be submitted for the redevelopment when interested parties who could have brought a lot more to the table have not been consulted. When the debate was going on about the future of the Markets Field there were a number of parts of the jigsaw to consider, the community of Garryowen, which to be fair have put up with an awful lot in terms of noise and illegal parking when the greyhound track was there.” Cllr Gerry McLoughlin said City Hall has a “social obligation” to be involved.