There is widespread disappointment in Courtown and beyond after liquidators were appointed to Courtown Adventure and Leisure Centre.
Conor Noone of Baker Tilly Chartered Accountants said that on Tuesday afternoon last (July 28), he and Neil Hughes were provisionally appointed as liquidators for Courtown Adventure and Leisure Centre in the High Court. He said that it is early days yet and more information would be gathered and the case would be heard on August 24.
In a memo to staff on the same day, the Board of Management told said that the company had been granted an order of voluntary liquidation, and that the liquidators would meet with staff in the days that followed.
In a statement to this newspaper, Chairperson of the Board Brian McGarry said that: 'The application to the high court has been granted and the affairs of the company will now be taken over by Neil Hughes of Baker Tilly, who have been appointed as the liquidators'.
Reasons for this decision were singled out as 'cash flow difficulties' as well as the Covid-19 pandemic, but the Board said that its members had been working tirelessly to prevent this course of action.
The statement read: 'Prior to the Covid-19 lockdown, the centre was experiencing intermittent cash flow difficulties. Covid-19 has had a very significant effect on our income, and the Board, who are voluntary, have been working tirelessly to find a solution for many months'.
The Board said that it had consulted with the financial, legal and governance aspects of the centre, but a funding solution had not been found.
Despite this, the memo ended on a hopeful note that a new chapter could start at the centre.
'The Board have now been advised that it is not feasible to open the centre in its current form.
'We know that the centre having fallen victim to the current crisis will no doubt come as devastating news. We remain hopeful that the centre will find a new lease of life and be rejuvenated in the future, continuing to provide the excellent service that it always did - for the local and wider community of Courtown'.
The Board acknowledged that the centre had been providing 'a necessary community service' such as contributing to tourism, development of health and well being via swim-lessons for school children and more.
One group benefiting from such involvement, Courtown Swim Club, expressed its disappointment.
'We have 100 swimmers so now we're going to look at pools around the county, most of which already have their own swim club. We will do that as best we can as we don't want to lose our memberships. We have some fantastic up and coming swimmers in the club and they have missed their swimming over lockdown.
'We're disappointed about the lack of communication around this as we didn't get an opportunity to engage. The pool is a second entity of Courtown Waterford, which benefited from community enterprise and fundraising, so we are hopeful that the community could come together to support the re-opening of the pool as an important community facility. We're aware of cases across the county where this has happened, any of our committee members would be pleased to be represented on any further boards,' a spokesperson said on behalf of the committee.
Roisin Duncan of Special Olympics Club Gorey Area said that 'devastation' was the only word to describe the news.
She said that the majority of members of Special Olympics Club Gorey Area live in Gorey and the surrounding areas, and having the facility that they love so much close to home was ideal.
She said that other options in possibly Arklow or Enniscorthy would have to be looked at, but that the Courtown centre was the most suitable venue for activities.
A staff member, who preferred to remain unnamed, said that staff hope that there will still be a future for them working in Courtown.
'The place is going to liquidation, which is sad, but hopefully someone will be interested in this place soon and can reopen it because Courtown and Gorey people need it.
'Without the coronavirus lockdown we would be open and busy and we can be again,' they said.
CEO of Seal Rescue Ireland Melanie Croce said that the centre adjacent to Courtown Adventure and Leisure Centre is not under threat at the moment.
'We heard the news last week and were contacted, and we're relieved that the liquidators took us into account. They have promised us that this will not impact our operations in any way because our lease is still there for the next number of months,' she said.
In a statement last month, the Board of Courtown Adventure and Leisure Centre said that it had been exploring potential investment opportunities to ascertain the viability of reopening the centre and avoid closure.
It read: 'In the past, the centre was co-funded by Wexford County Council, which we appreciate, however, as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown and restrictions, the certainty of funding is not clear. Without an injection of funds, the centre will not be able to meet its operational costs'.
A spokesperson for Wexford County Council said that it was aware of the situation facing the Board at Courtown Adventure and Leisure Centre and would be willing to work with whoever is appointed to take over in the future.
'In the event that the pool was to enter some form of administration, it stands that the council would be happy to work with whoever is appointed to look at how the pool could be reopened and made available to the public,' the spokesperson said.