THE €1.8 MILLION youth centre proposed for Ballynanty would “help to reduce anti-social behaviour” rather than add to it, Cllr Tom Shortt has said in response to residents opposed to the plans.
Limerick Youth Service has secured a donation from the JP McManus foundation to bring all of the services it provides for young people on the northside under one roof. Instead of matching funding, it is proposed that Limerick City Council provide a greenfield site it owns near Thomond Park. But whether this land deal goes ahead is now in question with northside councillors working against against the proposal.
“There is a high density of houses in the area and not enough green space. In my view, the quality of life for residents in the area will be lowered if this centre is built,” Cllr Michael Hourigan said this week.
Locals voiced their opposition at a public meeting last week that was attended by local councillors. Some residents contend that centre would increase anti-social behaviour and deprive children of a green space on which they play.
But Cllr Shortt has appealed to his council colleagues to see the bigger picture for the benefit of the children of Limerick.
“This is a sensible plan and the project has my full support,” the Labour councillor said.
“The proposed centre represents an investment in all of our futures. The evidence is all around us that improved services are badly needed. There are critical levels of youth suicide, alcohol and drug abuse, emotional and mental health problems in our communities.
“As a society we have a responsibility to put strategies and facilities in place to tackle these problems and the best way to do this is to provide our young people with activities, courses and advice delivered by trained staff in a safe, supervised environment,” said Cllr Shortt.
“Many young people have nowhere to go and get involved in anti-social behaviour. This centre, rather than causing anti-social behaviour as suggested by some residents, will in fact help to reduce it.” The area of green space that would be sacrificed was “relatively small”, Cllr Shortt said.