The number of public playgrounds in County Wexford is to set to increase significantly, following the adoption of a new five-year Playground Strategy by the members of Wexford County Council.
Playgrounds will be built in Ballycullane, Riverchapel, Bunclody and Castlebridge under the strategy, while Wexford County Council has plans to build several other playgrounds at locations around the county over the coming years.
The strategy, which covers the period 2017-2022, will see grants of up to €25,000 (or 49 per cent of capital costs) made available to community groups throughout County Wexford who wish to develop a children's playground in their local area.
Wexford County Council currently operates 29 playgrounds throughout County Wexford while a further four playgrounds have been developed by local communities in the villages of Askamore, Blackwater, Rosslare Harbour and Templeudigan in partnership with Wexford County Council.
Over the lifetime of the new strategy, the council plans to deliver an additional 13 playgrounds across the county.
Wexford County Council has also a larger 'destination' playground planned in each the four main towns, (in Wexford the large Min Ryan Park is being developed on the outskirts of the town with the project due to go to tender shortly), and the overall strategy will ensure the parks enjoy further investment from the council both in terms of maintenance, and also in the provision of new equipment and facilities.
Commenting on the Playground Strategy, Cathaoirleach of Wexford County Council Councillor Paddy Kavanagh said: 'This strategy has examined all of our existing playgrounds, including their facilities and their locations and it sets out a transparent plan to ensure every child in every community throughout County Wexford has a fair and reasonable opportunity to enjoy these essential amenities.'
Director of Services John Carley said: 'Wexford County Council identified a number of locations around the county that are not adequately served by playgrounds at the moment. Bridgetown, for example, has experienced significant population growth in recent years but currently does not have a playground.'
Cllr Larry O'Brien asked if a playground can be built in Campile, but was informed by Chief Officer Ger Mackey that although the local authority is actively trying to erect a playground in the village, there is no land currently available for it.
Cllr Malcolm Byrne said he hopes the council encourages developers building large estates to include play areas in their plans.
Councillors were told that communities applying for the funding can seek 'top up' funding through applications to Leader.
Cllr George Lawlor was advised by Cllr Ger Carthy to use his funding allocation to help build the playground in Castlebridge.
'You got a car park in Our Lady's Island because you told them the Pope was coming,' Cllr Lawlor shot back.
Mr Mackey said funding has been approved for up to 15 playgrounds. 'The deadline for funding is the end of June.'
Cllr Lisa McDonald welcomed the funding of four new playgrounds and asked if a community has land suitable for a playground if the value of the land can be taken into consideration in the funding application.
Mr Mackey said: 'We are looking for community groups to develop their own playgrounds which cost aroud €50,000 to install. We are looking for groups who have their own land to bring to the project. We train the groups and inspect the playgrounds once each year.'
Cllr Michael Sheehan enquired for skate parks are considered parks for funding purposes. Mr Mackey said: 'We would look at that as part of a destination playground.'