THE boss of Limerick Youth Service said she felt “crowded” by angry residents at an information event on the planned Ballynanty Youth Centre this week.
Director Catherine Kelly was speaking after around 50 northside residents stormed out of a public information event at the Ballynanty Youth Hall when they realised it was not a formal meeting.
Thanks to funds from JP McManus, the Limerick Youth Service wants to spend €1.8m building a 1,150 square metre multi-use youth centre near Thomond Park. The lands are owned by Limerick City Council.
But the plan has proven controversial, with councillors and residents speaking out against it.
And at a special information event organised this Tuesday night, a number of residents walked out soon after arriving after it became clear the event was not audience driven.
Rather than banks of seats, the information event showed off the work of the youth service, as well as providing architects impressions of the new centre.
Ballynanty Road resident Anne-Marie Stack said: “We came here tonight thinking it was going to be an informative meeting, we were told we could ask questions, and she [Ms Kelly] would get people to answer our questions. But instead we walked in for a presentation where there were prizes on display, tea and coffee being served. We were asked to go around from table to table, and see what they do.”
She argued that residents are aware of the activities of the Youth Service, and while they support its activities, they do not want to see it on a green field site in Ballynanty, when there are other derelict locations nearby.
In response, Ms Kelly said she did not feel a formal meeting was appropriate due to the misconceptions that are out there. “We completely empathise with the concerns of locals and their right to object to the project. But we have no doubt that many of those who turned up last night to state their objections to the project would fully support it were they fully in the picture as to what it will do for the area.”
According to Ms Kelly, some residents thought the youth service is building a methadone clinic, or a needle exchange.
This is not the case, she confirmed.
A full version of this story was pubished in the Limerick Leader, print edition, dated April 21, 2012