Work on the eagerly anticipated, €230,000 Rathdowney playground will begin in the coming months, with construction expected to finish before the summer.
Although the committee has been working hard towards delivering a new playground for the year, the need for a playground stretches back much further. But all the hard work will be a distant memory when the shrills and laughter of children can be heard enjoying the swings and slides, later this year.
Last Thursday, the Minister for the Environment, Phil Hogan sanctioned Laois Community and Enterprise Development to approve funding to the Rathdowney Playground Group of up to €187,500 for the development of a playground and multi use games area.
Chairman of the group, Cllr John King said he was ‘absolutely delighted’ that progress was finally being made.
“The new playground, walking track and multi-purpose pitch will not only benefit the community but also the students of St Fergals who will be able to use the all-weather pitch for PE.We’re delighted its going ahead. Everyone has worked hard, we had a tremendous committee,” he said.
Cllr King thanked Laois County Council and Laois VEC who he negotiated the use of the site with.
“To have a project which will cost in the region of €230,000 for Rathdowney is marvellous. It’s a long time since money like that has been spent in Rathdowney, it’s great to get the funding in such difficult times,” he said.
Cllr King expected to sign the contract with the builders, last Friday and for construction to begin as early as February. The building period will take six to eight weeks, and he hopes that the playground will be ready by May.
Announcing the funding Minister Hogan said: “This project is an excellent example of the work of a community that not only identified a need in their area but also worked tirelessly to be able to address that need in difficult and challenging times. It is an example of what can be done when communities and state agencies work together to provide facilities that will benefit not just the children of areas where the project will be situated but also the children of its surrounding communities.”
He commended the parents and community members of Rathdowney as well as Laois Community and Enterprise Development and Laois County Council for having the determination to bring the project to this stage of its development.
The Minister added, “this project will now go back to the Board of Laois Community and Enterprise Development for the final approval. This is in line with the EU’s “bottom-up” approach to rural development”.