Sunday 24 March 2019

Cutbacks put halt to 20m College project

Jim Gray

Although college authorities say they remain 'very hopeful' that the building will proceed in the near future, they concede that they are 'very disappointed' that the project is currently stalled.

However, their optimism about an early start to the project may be misplaced, as THE SLIGO CHAMPION understands that it is currently only midway in a Department of Education priority list which will determine which projects will be allocated funding next year.

A Department spokesperson confirmed that the project is currently at an advanced stage of architectural planning, with stage 3, known as the developed sketch scheme, already approved.

However, the Department has informed the school that the project will not be progressed further this year.

The spokesperson told THE SLIGO CHAMPION that for the 2009 Capital Programme, the Department will be allocating capital funding in accordance with the priority attaching to projects.

"The Department will be considering projects for inclusion in that programme over the coming months, and the further progression of the Summerhill project through architectural planning will be considered during this process", the spokesperson confirmed.

In a statement, the Board of Management of the college said they were pleased that Stage 3 of the architectural planning had been completed but were 'very disappointed' that the project was stalled.

"We are being assured by our public representatives that capital projects of this nature are vital to the future education of our young people and the economic stability of the region.

"Furthermore, the construction of the building would provide much needed employment in the region in the current economic climate", the statement said.

Expressing confidence that local politicians will be able to exert some influence on the decision makers, the college authorities remain hopeful that the delay will not be unduly long.

"Our local TDs and Minister continue to make representations on our behalf since they realise it is extremely important that the building would be progressed as soon as possible. We remain very hopeful that the building will proceed in the near future", the statement said.

To be built on an 18 acre site on the south side of College Road, the new college is designed to cater for 900 students. The new building will include up to 30 general classrooms, as well as two lecture rooms, music/drama facilities, reference rooms, Chaplain's office, four science laboratories social studies room, a library, new office and staff accommodation, and a multimedia learning area.