January 17, 2004.
A dispute over the positioning of an all-weather playing pitch which has gone on for two years in Abbeyleix finally drew to a close recently with the news that work would soon commence on the all-weather play area in Fr Breen Park.
Amongst the group present on Monday, January 12, for the official start of construction on the site were Michael Moran, Mary White, members of the GAA, the Women’s Development Group, members of FAS, as well as the building constructors, Michael Kavanagh from Con Redmond Construction, and Pat Gaughan, electrical contractor.
Last February, the Abbeyleix Development Committee gave notice in the Leinster Express that they intended to make an application to Laois County Council for full planning permission for a multi-surface play area in the area known as Fr Breen Memorial Park in Abbeyleix.
However, in a letter from LCC dated October 31, 2002, the Park Development Committee had been notified that “unauthorised site development work had been carried out at the Memorial Park without requisite planning permission”.
A dispute arose in October 2002, when work commenced in Vesey Park on a site adjacent to Vesey Close. Nearby residents were astonished when work first began, citing that they had several reservations regarding the pitch such as levels of noise it would create, as well as the problems created for residents by floodlighting.
However, an agreement was finally reached with the residents of De Vesci Close as regards to the new location of the development. An agreement was also worked out between the tennis club, soccer club and the GAA club to accommodate the location of the play area.
The soccer club has agreed to realign its pitch to make space for the new development, situated between both pitches and those of the GAA.
The Park Development Committee say that the two year delay has led to an increase in price to nearly double what was originally quoted. Therefore, the committee made a decision to approach local tradesmen to ask them to volunteer their time and equipment to this community project. The committee added that they were delighted that the local FAS scheme had agreed to help with the construction of the development.
Despite receiving a grant from the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism of €80,000, there is still a shortfall in the funding of between €10,000 and €15,000 which they hope to raise throughout the year by organising a series of fundraising activities.
When completed, this development will prove to be an outstanding asset to the town of Abbeyleix, the committee commented.