If the Waterford Wexford Education and Training Board fails to get approval from the Department of Education to lease a proposed new €2 million building at Carrigfoyle Quarry in Barntown for the re-location of Sheilbaggan Outdoor Pursuit Centre, Wexford County Council will construct a more modest premises on the site.
Phase one of an ambitious Council development project at Carrigfoyle, costing a separate estimate of €850,000, is starting this week with a finish date of August 2020, while the planned new activity centre with an extensive reception area and cafe, is currently being designed.
The first phase will include a new access road to the site, public and coach car parks and water and sewage connections to Larkin's Cross along with forest walking trails to suit all abilities.
The intention is that the County Council will build the activity centre in phase two and will recoup the financial outlay by leasing it to WWETB. The centre would offer supervised water-based activities such as canoeing and kayaking along with other outdoor pursuits like zip lines and rock climbing.
Independent councillor Leonard Kelly said he could see that the activity centre would be an amazing tourism project and asked about the educational element.
Executive engineer Michael Jones said it is anticipated that Sheilbaggan will re-locate there.
Fine Gael councillor John Hegarty described it as 'a really exciting project' and asked if the €2 million spend was dependent on Government funding.
'If money is not forthcoming, would we proceed with it ourselves', he enquired.
Director of Services Tony Larkin said the Council and the WWETB are trying to do it as a joint venture. 'The agreement is we build the buildings and they lease them. They need the Department of Education to sign off on a lease agreement and they are in discussions about that', he told councillors.
'If they don't come on board, we will do our own plan but it will be more modest and there won't be a large scale educational structure. It's just a question of getting all the legal final points together'.
In response to the Mayor, Cllr. George Lawlor he confirmed that the WWETB are 'very keen' on the project.
'As soon as they get the approval from Dublin, we will be proceeding with the project'.
In response to Cllr. Kelly, Mr. Larkin said there is not a risk in relation to funding. The second phase as designed will require WWETB co-operation but in the absence of that, it will be re-designed as a County Council-only project.