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CITY TRIBUNE

Planners query scale of school extension

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Planners have asked Our Lady’s College on the Presentation Road to justify why it needs such a big extension and to outline how it intends to reduce car usage among parents and staff given the large increase in traffic it would generate on an already constrained site.

The project, which the school claims will accommodate 420 students in the future with over 50 staff, will allow the relocation of the remaining students and staff currently located at the former Mercy secondary school site at Newtownsmyth.

Our Lady’s College is a merger of the Mercy and Presentation secondary schools.

In a letter to the Galway City Tribune, local resident Paul Flynn said 70 families on the Presentation Road, Mill Street and Canal Road objected to the extension, claiming it is a waste of public money as just 275 students are likely to be enrolled.

“Student numbers are now at 324. Only 31 students did the entrance exam in February and about 80 students are leaving. There is no student attending Our Lady’s College that lives within 1km, maybe even 2km radius of the school . . . Galway City has enough voluntary Catholic schools and, as a city, we need an Educate Together Secondary School. Why waste more public money on something that is not needed?”

Residents, whose objection was lodged out of time and not accepted by the planners, argue it will increase traffic and pollution and that the size and height of the building is excessive.

In its request for further information, the school has been asked to provide an overview of the operation of the existing school buildings on site, outlining student numbers, staffing and vehicle access. They have also been asked to provide an in-depth road safety audit given that “the proposed development gives rise to significant traffic and pedestrian safety concerns on a site that is already constrained”.

“Particularly, the proposal to increase private car movements on site, by virtue of the proposed vehicle access arrangements, which includes a one way traffic system, including drop off.”

The planners have criticised the lack of measures to encourage sustainable transport measures and use of public transport.

They said that the school’s mobility management plan had “a target of only 11%” reduction in private car use by parents”, which it said was unsustainable. The target increase of 4% in bicycle use was not sufficient and pointed out no cycle parking was proposed.

“It is noted that no targets are set for staff members, which is considered to be unacceptable/inappropriate. With a staff compliment of approximately 60, the figure provided of 72% of staff using private cars has the potential to result in at least 43 cars on site.”

The school predicted it would have 420 students in the future with over 50 staff. The planners point out that the existing site has little or no PE space and the extension does not propose any.

“The lack of any internal or external physical education spaces does not accord with national post-primary school design guidelines.”

The application had no assessment of its impact on the Corrib or the canal and had not submitted a flood risk assessment.

They have been asked now to provide expert reports on these as well as a heritage impact assessment of the protected building.

Ceist (the Catholic Education and Irish Schools Trust), the operators of the school, has sought permission for a three-storey extension to accommodate three classrooms, a new science lab, business studies room, technology rooms, preparation rooms and toilets.

The new building is proposed for the northern end of the 1960s structure on the school grounds, and will involve the removal of a pre-fab classroom to adjacent to the canal; removal of a storage and toilet enclosure under the 1960s building and removal of a pre-fab classroom adjacent to the primary school building.

The 20th century railings on the boundary wall south of the primary school will also be removed.

According to an architectural impact statement included with the application, while the development will be in close proximity to four protected structures [at the Presentation Convent and St Joseph’s Church], no historic fabric will be lost, with the sole exception of a limited area of limestone wall, which will be of limited significance.

“This overall school site has evolved significantly, particularly from the mid-20th century onwards. The proposed extension is considered to be in scale with the existing 1960s structure, and will facilitate the sensible natural evolution of a secondary campus with no detrimental effect on the four protected structures within its immediate vicinity,” the report reads.

A new site entrance has been developed adjacent to St Joseph’s Church on Presentation Road.

CITY TRIBUNE

Mercury hit 30°C for Galway City’s hottest day in 45 years

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –

Wednesday was the hottest day in the city over the past 45 years when with a high of 30.1 Celsius being recorded at the NUI Galway Weather Station.

The highest temperature ever recorded in the city dates back to June 30, 1976, when the late Frank Gaffney had a reading of 30.5° Celsius at his weather station in Newcastle.

Pharmacists and doctors have reported a surge in people seeking treatment for sunburn.

A Status Yellow ‘high temperature warning’ from Met Éireann – issued on Tuesday – remains in place for Galway and the rest of the country until 9am on Saturday morning.

It will be even hotter in the North Midlands, where a Status Orange temperature warning is in place.

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of our current heatwave has been the above average night-time temperatures and the high humidity levels – presenting sleeping difficulties for a lot of people.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Property Tax hike voted down in Galway City

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A proposal to boost Galway City Council coffers by half a million euro every year by increasing Local Property Tax (LPT) did not receive the support of city councillors.

Councillor Peter Keane (FF) failed to get a seconder at this week’s local authority meeting for his motion to increase the LPT payable on Galway City houses by 5%.

Cllr Keane said that the increase would net the Council €500,000 every year, which could be spent evenly on services across all three electoral wards.

It would be used to fund services and projects city councillors are always looking for, including a proposal by his colleague Cllr Imelda Byrne for the local authority to hire additional staff for city parks.

The cost to the taxpayer – or property owner – would be minimal, he insisted.

“It would mean that 90% of households would pay 37 cent extra per week,” he said.

Not one of the 17 other elected members, including four party colleagues, would second his motion and so it fell.

Another motion recommending no change in the current rate of LPT in 2022 was passed by a majority.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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CITY TRIBUNE

Galway City Council needs 40 more workers to help deliver on projects

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune –  Forty more workers are needed at City Hall ‘right away’, the Chief Executive of Galway City Council has said.

Brendan McGrath has warned city councillors that the local authority is understaffed and it needs to hire more staff immediately to deliver its plans and projects.

The total cost of the extra 40 workers, including salary, would be between €1.75 million and €1.95 million.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council had a workforce now that was below what it had in 2007, but the city’s population has grown and so too had the services the Council provides.

The population of Galway City grew by almost 11% in the 10 years to 2016, he said, and total staff numbers in the Council fell by 13.6% during that period.

Though more staff were hired in recent years, Mr McGrath said that the Council was at 2007 and 2008 staffing levels, even though the Census will record further increases in population since 2016.

Mr McGrath said that the City Council now provides 1,000 services across a range of departments, far more than during the 2000s.

He said that currently, 524 staff are employed at the City Council. This equated to 493 Whole Time Equivalents when part-time workers such as school wardens and Town Hall workers are included.

Mr McGrath said that 12% of all staff are in acting up positions, with many more in short-term or fixed-term contracts. There was a highly competitive jobs market and the Council was finding recruitment and retention of specialist staff difficult.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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