PLANS have been unveiled for an 80-acre community and recreation facility on the grounds of Ballyneety golf club.
This will include walking trails, five-a-side soccer pitches, a ‘crazy golf’ course, a junior golf academy, a creche and other sporting facilities.
The total cost of the project is expected to be about €600,000. This is in addition to the €1.4m cost of buying back the golf club from Quintas wealth management group which acquired it on behalf of the club in 2013.
The committee charged with managing what is dubbed Project 2016 presented their plans to councillors from the Adare Rathkeale municipal district this week. They are seeking funding from the council to help advance their plans over the next five years.
The club reopened in 2013 after being closed for a number of years. It currently has about 650 members.
It occupies a 183 acre site in the village of Ballyneety, just five miles from Limerick city. With 100 acres of this dedicated to the golf course, the remaining 80 acres have been earmarked for use as a community/recreation facility. Architect David Leahy, who drew up the plans for this facility, described it as “an incredible site”.
He explained that the objective of the project is to allow local people to make use of the amenity.
“We are not going to be turning people away. We want to embrace the community and anyone who wants to enjoy this wonderful facility,” he said.
“This is just a fantastic opportunity for people in the area to enjoy the fantastic parkland setting that we have here,” Mr Leahy added.
According to the chairman of the Project 2016 committee, Hugh O’Donnell, there are currently 36 people employed at the club in part-time and full-time roles. This is expected to grow to 52 over the next few years as the development plans come to fruition.
He explained that the Quintas Group intended to get out of its investment by 2016, which presented an opportunity for the club to buy it back. To date, they had received a commitment of €200,000 from “philanthropic sources” and that they were confident of securing approximately €600,000 from fundraising activities, membership fees, donations, commercial activities and sponsorship.
In addition to this Mr O’Donnell told councillors they were seeking funding of €50,000 per annum for five years from Limerick City and County Council. He said such funding would act as “a catalyst” to make the project happen.
“This is an opportunity to showcase how a community-council partnership can deliver this rural amenity,” Mr O’Donnell said.
“At Ballyneety, we have a vision that is unique and we want to create a major infrastructural amenity critical to the growth of South-East Limerick as a sustainable location for employment, tourism and sustainable development,” he added.
The area councillors were unanimous in their support for the project, with cathaoirleach Tom Neville describing it as a “fantastic proposal”.
“It is a very worthwhile project. They are covering all facets of the community and giving the community what it needs,” Mr Neville said.