Hopes are high that Borris-in-Ossory will finally have a playground next year, but it all depends on the success of local fundraising efforts.
Public tenders are being sought to build a playground for children aged 0 to 12 years in the town, while Laois County Council have agreed to lease a quarter acre of roadside land beside the church to Borris-in-Ossory Development Association, for the next ten years.
A budget of €85,000 has been set for all the play equipment, seating and landscaping, but a quarter of this, more than €21,000, must be fundraised, and the association have plenty of ideas lined up to reach the target. An expected grant from Laois Partnership would cover the remaining cost.
The playground is far from cut and dried, says Secretary of Borris-in-Ossory Development Association, Jack Fahey.
“There is no guarantee it will happen, but we are trying hard. We are in a bad position financially and we have to raise a lot ourselves. We have to apply for a bridging loan as well as the grant, if they fail, it could be put back,” he said.
He says more than 250 children need the playground, between Borris and neighbouring Ballaghmore and Killadooley. At the moment, the nearest playground is the newly opened facility in Rathdowney, 8 miles away.
“There’s nothing here for children, except what the school and the GAA can provide. The playground was first mooted three years ago, but it was unsuccessful. We are going to go on a major fundraising drive now, we have had several meetings to talk it through,” he said.
The committee are hoping to raise much of the money by going door to door with envelopes, asking for donations. They will hold a church gate collection next month, and a big raffle coming up to Christmas.
“We are asking everybody to rally around and help us provide this playground,” Mr Fahey said, reporting that seven contractors have already shown an interest in tendering for it. All tenders must be received by noon on August 24.
The playground is to be built on a narrow strip of County Council land beside the Church, on the Roscrea road. In their tender, the association request that the playground design retains as much green space as possible, and use natural features such as boulders for climbing. It must have seating for parents, and the junior area should be fenced off securely from dogs, with a dogproof grid.
The junior area must have a sand a water zone, and items to encourage climbing, balancing and exploration. The senior area should have a nest swing, a roundabout or see saw, a ‘flying fox’ line, a challenging climbing feature and a slide. Thought must be given to children who are less abled, with a sensory garden encouraged.