NORTHSIDE residents opposed to plans for a youth centre in the shadow of Thomond Park have urged councillors to bring the project to a halt.
With planners set to make a decision on the controversial project in the next week, half the membership of the City Council were on the field where the Youth Service want to build the centre on Tuesday evening to hear a group of local residents state their opposition to the project, which is being bankrolled by JP McManus.
According to the proposals, the youth service want to build a new multi-purpose centre in the heart of the estate.
While councillors cannot interfere with the planning process, because the land is owned by Limerick City Council, it is up to members to approve the disposal of land to the youth service.
If councillors refused this, it would render any planning application by the Youth Service null and void.
In a letter to all 17 city councillors, the residents have asked a motion be put down stating that “City Council will not agree to the disposal of land in the Knockalisheen Road and Ballynanty Road area for the proposed Limerick Youth Service Development, and the area be maintained as a residential green site”
Anne-Marie Stacke, of the residents opposition committee says it is hoped the walk-around of the area has persuaded councillors to take on their fears. She took them on a mini-tour of the area, so councillors could view the field from various areas.
“People are concerned about how close it is to properties and the impact it will have on the communities. We are not opposed to what they are doing - we just want them to find a better site. [If they do this] it will benefit them, and will benefit the community. This is where we are at,” Ms Stacke said, “It is a nice green area. It is the only entrance and exit to Ballynanty. We need some space, and we need some recreational grounds. This is all we are arguing for. If we could pick up the building and put it somewhere more suitable, we would back the Youth Service 100%.”
The only councillor who explicitly stated his support for a youth centre in Ballynanty was Labour’s northside councillor Tom Shortt.
But when it comes to the vote to dispose of the land, the views of councillors on the southside and in city east will prove most crucial.
Southside councillor Maria Byrne admitted she was concerned about the loss of any allotments - because she opened them during her mayoralty.
But Cllr Shortt said: “This project is about including young people and providing structures for them. Change is always difficult.”
Ballygrennan Road resident Megan Ryan, 15, said: “I feel it would be more for the socially deprived members of society. The less nice people, maybe. If I walk near the building, I will probably go the other way,” she said.