Thursday 30 March 2017

Cash-strapped council spends €1.5m on changing facilities

Edel Kennedy

A COUNCILLOR has said she is "stunned" to hear that €1.5m is being spent on new sports changing rooms -- more than the cost of nine two-bed apartments in the same area.

The "baffling" spend by cash-strapped Dublin City Council has taken place despite massive cuts imposed by the authority in recent months -- and at a time when building costs have plummeted.

The bill is for new changing room facilities in Fairview Park, close to the city centre. It includes eight basic changing rooms, with toilet and shower facilities, and two changing rooms for referees.

Last year, the council introduced €30m in spending cuts, including a 5pc cut across many services.

The high cost of the building also comes just weeks after it was learned that the council had spent €170,000 on a new bus stop and shelter outside Dublin City University.

Last night, former Dublin city mayor Emer Costello said she was "baffled" as to why the Fairview facility was so expensive to build.

"I'm a bit stunned," she said, adding that it didn't appear to be good value for money.

She pointed out that Ballybough's new community centre was completed recently at a total cost of €1m, adding: "I would be stunned that a basic changing room and shower facility would cost €1.5m."

Furthermore, it is understood that the price does not include VAT, which will push the final cost upwards to €1.8m.

Ms Costello said the changing rooms were essential for the area as a large number of teams trained in the park.

However, she also pointed out that while these huge amounts are being spent, three city-centre swimming pools are being threatened with closure.

A portion of the money is coming from the National Roads Authority, which handed over €6m for works associated with the Dublin Port Tunnel.

A total of €1.1m of this is going into the changing rooms, with €500,000 going towards a new playground.

Closures

A breakdown of the accounts show that €5.35m of the original €6m has already been spent.

Of this, €1.8m has gone to Brown and Root Construction Supervisor to oversee the works. A further €736,294 has been spent on 'consultancy', which covers professional fees, including legal expenses.

Last night Dublin City Council defended the spend, saying that it was built on a Victorian dump and the land had to be reclaimed and additional foundations installed.

"The fabric of the building is constructed to very high standards, in low-maintenance materials," the spokeswoman said.

"Overall, the aim has been to provide a sustainable building with high capital costs and low costs in use."

Figures show that five years ago, when construction prices were amongst the highest they had ever been, changing rooms were built in Firhouse, south Dublin, at a total cost of €400,000.

That project was comprised of six changing rooms and similar additional facilities to those being built in Fairview.

The Dublin City Council spokeswoman said it hoped to have the Fairview playground completed by the end of the year.

Irish Independent

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