Saturday 24 March 2018

Things were seldom rosy during this project

DECEMBER 2009: Cork City Council contacts Diarmuid Gavin to discuss proposals for an iconic garden. The idea is discussed over a number of months.

June 2010: The 'Avatar'-inspired Sky Garden concept is agreed. Mr Gavin and the council discuss exhibiting it at the Chelsea Flower Show.

Summer: Cork Midsummer Festival seeks funding from Failte Ireland to help finance the project. It agrees to contribute €1.2m to help make the garden a permanent feature in the Mardyke Gardens, part of a refurbishment of Fitzgerald Park. The council will pay the other €400,000.

November: Engineers begin building the flying pod.

January 2011: Emails are sent between Mr Gavin and the council over a lack of clarity and communication. The council is concerned about a lack of detail for the Mardyke Garden element of the project, and refuses to release money until those elements are agreed. Mr Gavin says he is meeting the costs of the project to date.

February: Cork City Council orders work on the garden to stop, claiming there is still no final design for Mardyke.

March: Mr Gavin writes to the council, threatening legal action unless it releases money. He had borne the entire cost of the project, and was worried about the financial implications.

May: Sky Garden (above) is awarded the gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show.

June: The flying pod is shipped to Cork and put in storage. The plants, shrubs and trees are in storage in Kildare.

October: The council unveils plans for the garden to be incorporated into Fitzgerald Park.

November: Mr Gavin writes to councillors, asking that he be allowed to address a council meeting to explain his side in the saga. The request is denied. He also claims that the garden will be placed on a site that regularly floods.

December: The council releases documents on the project, showing the cost of the project to date is almost €495,000. Mr Gavin's design fee was almost €50,000.

Companies are sought to design the project. Work is expected to get under way next year.

The council and Mr Gavin are now communicating through solicitors.

Irish Independent

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