The possible design of 'Central Park' in Kilminchy which has been approved by residents.
Kilminchy residents have approved an enhancement plan for their estate that could cost in the region of €580,000 over the next three years.
An EGM of the Kilminchy Homeowners took place on Thursday evening last where residents and members had the opportunity to approve the Kilminchy Community Plan that aims to deliver “green infrastructure” in the estate.
Some 48 residents voted on the night with 39 approving the plan and nine voting that they were against it.
The big-ticket item in the plan, prepared by Green Pine Consultants, is a new Central Park. The cost of drawing up the 65-page plan was 90% covered by grants from the Leader Programme through Laois Partnership and Laois County Council.
There is 17-acres of land to work with between the Central Park and lake area. At the moment this space is mostly mowed lawns.
The natural play park would feature an adventure woodland and trails in a green space around the existing tennis courts which would be revamped. The estimated cost would be €250,000.
An open communal community events space is also earmarked for the Central Park, costing up to €50,000.
A Kilminchy Active Play Facilities area is also earmarked for the Central Park. This would include multi-use ball courts and an outdoor gym trail. The cost of this is estimated at €105,000.
A Lakes Park Environmental Development is also planned. Spending of up to €85,000 is outlined for various projects to enhance the lakes and surrounding areas.
A boardwalk, paths, wildflower meadows, benches and a community woodland garden are all included.
Work is also planned for so-called “green infrastructure” around the commercial centre. Tree planting, wildflower meadows, and a woodland garden along the Bridle Walk are proposed in the plan.
Other ideas include pocket park and streetscape enhancements. There is also mention of a walkway to connect Kilminchy to the two secondary schools, via Rathevan.
The plan proposes that the work would be carried out in two phases. Work on all the key elements would begin in 2019 while some of the more substantial initiatives would be part of phase two in 2020-22.
As for paying for the projects, the consultants say the potential funding sources include Laois County Council, Laois Partnership, National Lottery and the Irish Wildlife Trust. Private funds will also be sourced.
Kilminchy Estate is located off the town's Dublin Road. Work began on the estate in the late 1990s. It now consists of 720 houses, apartment buildings, a large commercial centre, retirement homes/villages, and a central green spine of lakes and park spaces.
Green Pine says the provision of green infrastructure in and around urban and residential areas is now widely recognised as contributing towards creating places where people want to live and work.
Landscape architect Brian Gaynor of Green Pine who drew up the plan said the design is about engaging the community.
“All the work we do in terms of green infrastructure we look at multiple ways public green spaces can be used as a way to engage residents and build a sense of community. At the first workshop, it was pointed out to us that there wasn’t a great sense of community within Kilminchy. That’s natural, it's such a big housing estate developed reasonably quickly over the last 15 to 20 years.
“For all the green infrastructure elements within this we would recommend that they are used and developed in a way that engages the community,” he said.
WHERE IS THE MONEY GOING TO COME FROM?
The Green Infrastructure Plan in Kilminchy is going to cost an estimated €580,000 but could be funded entirely by grants and without any cost to the residents, according to a board director of the estate’s management company.
According to Michael MacMahon, a board director, this figure is not “cast in stone” as it depends on what projects they choose to go ahead with or not.
The design stage has been 90% funded by the Leader Programme which is government grants through the Department of Rural and Community Development.
Going ahead with the work that is outlined in the plan will be 75% funded by the Leader Programme according to the board. This leaves around €145,000 to be funded by the residents.
Residents at the EGM on Thursday night asked where the other 25% of funding was going to come from.
The board said it hopes that a fundraising committee will be set up to source grants and organise local fundraisers within the community.
“The other 25% we have to find ways to do that, raise that money, what we don’t want to do is where that is going to be passed on to the members we want to try and work out, we mentioned forming some sub-committees to deal with fundraising and availing of grants.
“There are a lot of grants out there that I don’t know about but somebody here probably does know where there are grants available. What we want to try and do is get together a fundraising committee who know about grants, who will seek out the grants and get them because we could possibly fund this without any cost, that’s not a guarantee, but we could possibly fund it without any cost to Kilminchy Management and that would be our aim to minimise that as much as possible,” Mr McMahon said.
Brian Gaynor of Green Pine Consultants, who is working on the project, said the 25% is broken down into small projects.
“You would break them down and target them separately, it’s not that you are going for funding for the whole plan at once.
This plan can be developed in phases and as and when resources become available,” he said.