SOME councillors on the northside have declined to say whether they would vote in favour of providing a site for a €1.8 million youth centre in Ballynanty.
Limerick Youth Service has secured a significant donation from JP McManus and has the consent of landowner Limerick City Council to make a planning application on the site near Thomond Park. If that application succeeds, it would then be up to the 17 councillors to approve the land deal. But it is the six councillors on the northside who are facing most pressure from constituents opposed to the plans.
Last week, Cllr Michael Hourigan said residents’ quality of life would be lessened were the centre to be built on the subject site. But Cllr Tom Shortt enthusiastically supports the plans.
Cllr Maurice Quinlivan said that while the plan had merit, Limerick Youth Service had “unfortunately shot itself in the foot” by not consulting more widely with residents.
“The situation is very disappointing because it seems like a good plan that might have got more support if there had been more consultation. There is still time to consult more widely, even at this late stage. There are people in the area who are actually in favour as well,” he said.
On whether he would vote in favour of a land transfer, he said: “if push comes to shove and the community don’t want it there, what’s the point point in putting it in there on top of them”.
Cllr Kevin Kiely said he did not wish to “jump the gun” in advance of assessing the planning application and hearing the concerns of objectors.
“I am smack bang in the middle of the area and I have to listen to residents. But the bones of €2 million is being made available for this project and other parts of the city would give their right arm for this facility,” Cllr Kiely said.
“Councillors will have to make a responsible decision but until I have seen the application and assessed the different points of view, I won’t be making any decision.”
On a potential land transfer, Cllr Kathleen Leddin said: “there are a lot of bridges to cross before we get to that stage”
“I will revisit it at the appropriate stage after taking into consideration people’s concerns.”
Having said that, Cllr Leddin thought the plan was “a good, progressive one” that she would not like to see lost to the northside altogether and appealed to the Youth Service to consider other sites.
“There are very few green sites left in the front of Ballynanty and that’s one of them. I think the Youth Service has fallen down by not consulting with residents, some of whom are quite incensed by this.
“I’m sure with a little effort another site could be found. It’s the people who are living there whose views must have uppermost consideration, they are the ones most affected by it.”
And Cllr Cormac Hurley is another in the undecided camp when it comes to the possible disposal of the site.
“At first I thought it would have been a very good thing for the area but there are a number of people who have come out strongly against it and people don’t want their green area done away with. It’s a difficult situation for everyone,” said Cllr Hurley.