Local activist and youth worker, Mick Greene has spoken of the disappointment felt by local skaters who were not invited to attend and engage in the meeting about the proposed skatepark that took place in the town hall on recently.
“As key stakeholders in this process, their voice should also be represented and it would have been a great opportunity for local residents to meet the young people who will use this facility,” he said.
Mr. Greene founded Urban Sports Kilkenny, a youth club for local skaters, in 2009 with a view to giving those who take part in the sport a forum to raise their concerns.
“I fully understand the concerns of the local residents but I strongly believe that there will be no trouble caused from the local skaters. There has been no effort by the politicians of both sides of this proposal to mediate between the future users of the facility and the local residents. The provision of a skatepark has been used as a political football for years with the young people being caught in the middle. The young people in the club feel betrayed by Cllr. McGuinness who had previously told the young people how he will help them to get such a facility and now trying to make political gains by vilifying them. I do appreciate the concerns over the cost of such a facility but I also believe that suggestions I have made in the past around the design, choice of materials, etc. could significantly reduce the costs associated with building this facility. The Fianna Fail coucillors should remember that it was their party that put the massive hole in our public finances,” he added.
Mr. Greene indicated that the young people from the club are willing to meet with the local residents to discuss the matter further in a constructive manner. “If the council members and executive are supporting this proposal, the skatepark will be built subject to the availability of funding. I have stated that I believe that there are alternative sites in Kilkenny and have actively explored the feasibility of a number of these sites, including the old James Stephens Swimming Pool and Scanlon park. I believe that these sites would be subject to less local resistance and would represent better use of public money. However, if the Closh site is the chosen site, all sides need to focus on ensuring that the proposed park it is a safe and well monitored facility that poses no threat to the local residents.”