At a public meeting facilitated by Kilkenny Borough Council in City Hall on Wednesday night, the residents of The Closh, opposite the Omniplex cinema and surrounding areas made it clear to Senior City Engineer Kieran Fitzgerald, that none of them want to see a skate park in their area.
Armed with a petition from every single household in the area adamantly stating their objection to the facility, the residents committee wanted to see an end to an ongoing debacle that threatened the make up of their area.
Speaking at Wednesday’s meeting resident Bill Bergin said the residents were not against the idea of a skate park, but didn’t feel that it should be in a residential area like The Closh where most people are older and settled. The Council should look at alternatives like the Castle Park.”
A number of alternatives were suggested by engineer Kieran Fitzgerald including Gallows Hill, the old swimming pool site, the Fair Green and Kilkenny Castle Park. The most suitable site in terms of security and location is the Castle Park, however, it is envisaged that the Office of Public Works (OPW) would not support any proposal to have a skate park on the park grounds.
The Fair Green site was also opposed by the residents for the same reasons as The Closh site. Residents pointed out that the Castle Park was proposed some years ago and it should have been investigated.
“The Castle Park was proposed over two years ago by myself and Councillors Joe Reidy and Joe Malone. I’m disappointed that even after our proposal Kilkenny Borough Council did not even ask the OPW. It’s easy to presume a negative response but we don’t know for sure until we ask. I think we should give the OPW the benefit of doubt and ask them. It would be a positive development for young people in Kilkenny and they certainly deserve a skate park in a proper location like Kilkenny Castle after all of these years,” Cllr Andrew McGuinness said.
“We have made it very clear over the years that we want to see a skate park in the city for our young people but you have to take the concerns of residents into consideration and that was not the case at The Closh. It’s simply not an appropriate area for this kind of facility. Kilkenny Castle would be ideal if they were willing to revise their closing hours. If this location is not a runner then we need to find an alternative as soon as possible,” said Cllr Joe Reidy.
“We have supported the residents of The Closh over the last number of years and it was unfair to force the project down their necks. That’s not what we were elected to do. The Fianna Fail group were the only members who voted against the proposal of putting the skate park in The Closh and after so many years of arguing, it now looks like other members are starting to see it from the residents perspective,” Cllr Joe Malone said.
Residents left the public meeting with a feeling of relief as they are now a step closer to the end of a long debate. Some pointed out that a lot of anti social behaviour has occured at The Closh in recent times and they believe that a skate park would be abused by people who don’t want to use it for skate boarding.
A proposal has been submitted to Kilkenny Borough Council in the names of Councillors Andrew McGuinness, Joe Reidy and Joe Malone, requesting that the proposal for a skate park at The Closh be scrapped and replaced with a peace park to be enjoyed by residents and that an alternative location for a skate park be investigated immediately starting with Kilkenny Castle Park.
“We need to act on this urgently and deliver a skate board park for our young people as soon as possible. They have listened to us argue about location for a number of years now and generations of skateboarders have moved on.
“We have certainly failed them and now it’s time to put our political differences aside and agree on a proper location because all of the members want to see a skate park going ahead. Im happy for the residents of The Closh because that area was not appropriate but we now need to move fast and deliver for our young people,” Cllr Andrew McGuinness said.