NORTHSIDE residents are preparing for a bitter battle with the Limerick Youth Service over plans for a youth centre in Ballynanty.
Thanks to funding from JP McManus and Limerick City Council, the youth service wants to build a multi-use youth centre near Thomond Park.
But the plan has proven controversial with councillors and residents speaking out against it.
Now, a committee of some 65 residents have set up an office in the St Munchinâ€™s Community Centre in protest.
And in the coming days, they will lodge a formal objection to the â‚¬1.8m plans.
At a public information event last week, residents felt compelled to walk out after claiming the forum was not designed to allow their concerns be heard. This was denied by director of the youth service Catherine Kelly.
Residents have a variety of concerns, including the potential traffic hazard caused by a building which could attract up to 500 people.
They are also fearful of losing one of the few remaining green fields in Ballynanty to development.
John Hickey, Ballynanty Road, says the green space earmarked for the youth centre is one of the few places his ten year old son can play.
Marianne Slattery of the Ballygrennan Road added: â€œIn every new build, there has to be at least ten per cent land left green. We are way below the ten per cent mark already so I cannot understand how they have been given this land to develop on.â€
Mr Hickey also believes the youths who spoke to the Limerick Leader in favour of the project were â€œprimedâ€ by Ms Kelly.
â€œAny time anyone spoke to her, or any other individual, the youths were primed to come over with this â€˜in your faceâ€™ attitude, asking â€˜Why donâ€™t you want a youth club?â€™ And â€˜What is wrong with a youth club?â€™. I think this is an attempt to quieten any gung-ho from the residents,â€ he said.
Anne-Marie Stacke, Ballynanty Road believes if the youth service develops, it will upset far more people on the northside than those that will benefit.
She was incensed by a claim made by Ms Kelly that the funding from the JP McManus Pro-Am was area specific - and this was the reason they could not build elsewhere.
Limerick City TD Willie Oâ€™Dea made contact with the committee which allocates the funding.
He said: â€œI was told by a senior representative that they had given the money for a youth centre in good faith. They had no control where it was located.â€