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Aquatic Centre looks sunk as costs rocket


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Aquatic Centre looks sunk as costs rocket Aquatic Centre looks sunk as costs rocket

City Councillors look set to torpedo plans for a regional aquatic centre in Knocknacarra as costs spiral out of control.

A meeting of the local authority was told on Monday night that skyrocketing construction costs had driven the project’s price tag up to €22.1 million – €5 million more than the estimate of €17.2 million given when the ‘Galway Regional Sports Centre’ was proposed over two years ago.

As a result, councillors have directed the Council Executive to see if the funds secured for the project can be redirected – with an overhaul of Leisureland being eyed as an alternative.

In 2020, the Council secured €8 million in Largescale Infrastructure Funding (LSIF) from the Department of Sport to develop the facility which was to be located in Cappagh Park.

The shortfall was to be funded through a public-private partnership, whereby the future operator of the centre would bridge the gap.

On Monday, Cllr Donal Lyons (Ind) suggested that the the hole in finances was too great to fill and proposed redirecting the funds to Leisureland, for which he said there would be a €7 to €10 million bill “to bring it up to scratch”.

“I feel this can’t go any further because of the costs involved,” he said. “I don’t think this is a viable project.”

Cllr John Connolly (FF), who suggested in September it was “time to move on” from the Cappagh plan, said he concurred with Cllr Lyons’ suggestion for Leisureland but said other locations should be examined too.

“While it won’t benefit me politically to say it, there are other areas of the city with now swimming facilities – areas with some disadvantage that could do with such a facility,” said the City West councillor.

Cllr Owen Hanley (Soc Dem) said it had been included as an objective in the new City Development Plan to construct a swimming pool in Doughiska.

“Doughiska must be prioritised, as well as investing in the existing facilities in Leisureland,” he said.

His east side colleague, Cllr Terry O’Flaherty agreed and said: “I firmly believe we should have a swimming pool on the east side of the city – the ward is growing at a rapid rate.”

Head of Finance in City Hall, Helen McDonagh, committed to seeking guidance from the Department of Sport on the €8 million that would go unused if the plug was pulled on the Cappagh swimming facility.

Acting Director of Services Patricia Philbin said typically, the funding could not be reallocated but they would clarify the matter.

Cllr Mike Crowe (FF) said that should it become clear that the money could be used elsewhere, it would be inappropriate to “tie” the Council to spending it on Leisureland, and all options should be looked at.

Cllr Imelda Byrne (FF) said it had become clear that the Cappagh aquatic centre was not a “practical proposal”.

“If there was a reallocation of the LSIF to Leisureland, we should see if a larger pool could be built there – 50 metres to make it attractive to international competitors,” she said.


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