Wednesday 17 January 2018

Balbriggan swimming pool takes first steps in tendering process

An illustration of the proposed swimming pool at Balbriggan Rugby Club.
An illustration of the proposed swimming pool at Balbriggan Rugby Club.

AFTER eight years mired in red tape and false starts, there is new hope on the horizon for the development of a swimming pool for Balbriggan alongside an upgrade of facilities at the local rugby club.

Club stalwart, Robert Cashell who has headed up efforts to build a multi-million euro pool and clubhouse development at the rugby club has welcomed news that a tender process on the project is to finally begin.

Two years ago, the club was forced to split with its private partners, Kingfisher, as the OPW insisted a new tender process had to be instigated if the project was to follow EU rules.

According to Mr Cashell, that put the project 'not just back to the start, but back before the start'. But the club pressed on and prepared a new proposal for the project which has sat with the Department of Sport until now.

'For the last two years, really nothing has happened and we have been round and round in circles on it. Over the past few months, the club has been chasing down our local representatives and Cllr. Tom O'Leary (FG) got involved and pushed and pushed to get the parties together.'

Cllr. O'Leary lobbied three Government ministers on the issue, including Minister James Reilly and Minister Leo Varadkar and eventually, a high-level meeting was facilitated between all sides in the ongoing saga, and out of that, comes news in the last few days that 'expressions of interest' will now be invited to see a private partner to take the project forward, a vital first step in the tendering process.

If the tender goes out in May, then Mr Cashell said: 'We will know by the end of the summer if this project will succeed or not.'

He said the club was 'happy that it's moved onto this stage' and is particularly anxious that vital new facilities for the club be delivered along with the pool.

The original project had a price-tag of around €7 million but the club will be seeking to bring the project in under that figure as some of the funding set aside for it eight years ago, has now been used for the day-to-day running of the club.

The Department of Sport and Fingal County Council have previously committed grant funding for the project in excess of €4 million, with €750,000 of that coming from the council, so if the project succeeds in getting a partner, then the club will be hopeful of finally progressing it.

Cllr O'Leary has congratulated the club on its persistence and thanked everyone involved in clearing the long running impasse to move to the tendering stage.

He said: 'Local Fine Gael candidate, Jean Fay Brady has been lobbying me as a councillor to deliver amenities for the large young population in Balbriggan.'

He said: 'After a meeting on Friday, April 4 in the Department of Sports with Fingal County Council officials and Office of Public Works (OPW) agreement has been reached after waiting many years, to advertise this excellent project for expressions of interest .

'It will be a great addition to Balbriggan with its large young population.'

Fingal Independent

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