Smiths Field playground ‘nightmare’

Problems are continuing to escalate at Smiths Field in Mountmellick. The 14 acre site, accessible only by foot, has now become a dumping ground on top of being the centre of anti-social behaviour in the town.

Problems are continuing to escalate at Smiths Field in Mountmellick. The 14 acre site, accessible only by foot, has now become a dumping ground on top of being the centre of anti-social behaviour in the town.

Cllr Ollie Payne is urging the community to band together to solve the problem of rubbish being dumped in drains beside Kirwan Park.

“The parish own it, but can’t afford to clean it. It’s not the responsibility of the residents of Kirwan Park either. We are at a dead end. We need to get a voluntary organisation and get in machinery. The guards are good to come down, but we need to do something collectively,” he said at last Thursday’s policing meeting.

Mountmellick’s new Garda Sergeant Ingrid Moore has admitted that catching youths engaging in anti-social behaviour on the 14 acre parish owned site is almost impossible as there are so many escape routes.

“They can see us coming from way off and they are gone, we do give it as much attention as we can,” said Sgt Moore, adding that they can’t run as fast as teenage boys.

Councillors are now demanding that the playground that was built there two years ago at a cost of a quarter of a million euros by Laois County Council be moved to another location,

“We have to acknowledge when we make mistakes, and tell the county manager it’s not working. It’s a nightmare from a Garda point of view. It was a bad decision from day one to put it there,” said Cllr Paddy Bracken.

“The problem is with teenagers. There is broken glass and needles left there. We all agree it’s not a suitable site, impossible to control. Ideally we want it closed down,” said Cllr Marc Connolly.

The land lies between Kirwan park and College Avenue, is out of public sight, and only accessible by foot, but plans to build an access road and houses for the elderly, disabled and returning emigrants are still in progress, PP Fr Frank McNamara told the Leinster Express.

“4.5 acres are sold to a Laois developer subject to planning permission, including the playground. I don’t know when the houses will be built, but the developers had a constructive meeting recently about it. With that development would come a carpark. It would certainly be a help to have better access from Harbour Street,” he said.

“The pity of it is we have a playground and running track that are very well facilitated. At the time I agreed that for the good of the community they could put it there. It is not leased from the parish, it is parish owned land. Obviously it is not a good location, people are not using it because they seemingly don’t feel secure going down there. What’s the answer, I don’t know, but it isn’t the responsibility of the parish,” he said.