The streetlights have finally been switched off in Shandra Woods, leaving the Portarlington estate of 54 homes in darkness.
The eight year old estate now lies in limbo, while residents wait to see when Offaly County Council will take it in charge, a deadlock situation that could become a national problem, according to local cllr Eddie Fitzpatrick.
“This is not an easy situation, it’s getting more difficult all the time. It’s going to become a problem in more estates where the developer has walked away,” he said.
Last October developer Pat Martin instructed the ESB to cut the power or “de-energise” Shandra Woods and remove his name from the account. Several threatened deadlines were made to turn the lights off, as residents and local councillors pleaded with the ESB to keep it lit throughout the winter months.
A fortnight ago, they finally pulled the plug, and since then families have been relying on their porch lights to keep them from tripping in the dark, with fears growing of house break-ins.
“We have asked the gardaí to include the estate in their patrols, We can’t allow our children to play outside, it’s very hard to see them,” said chair of the residents association Jason Doyle. He is thankful for the light cast on the estate by Gracefield GAA Club, back in training next door.
Last week the residents took it on themselves to formally ask the local authority to take their estate in charge, gathering a petition signed by over 90 registered voters living in the estate, together with a supporting letter from Cllr Fitzpatrick. Mr Doyle hopes things will be resolved quickly.
“I am hoping it will be sorted out in the next couple of weeks, or we will have to step up the campaign in some shape or form. We have been left in the middle between the council, the builder and the ESB,” he said.
Cllr Fitzpatrick is not expecting a quick resolution, as there is a survey of the estate’s sewerage system yet to be completed before it can be taken in charge.
“I believe the bond has now expired, so that all has to be looked into. It’s not looking good,” he said.