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19/10/2021

Renovated Portlaoise leisure centre set to reopen within weeks

Renovated Portlaoise leisure centre set to reopen within weeks

Portlaoise Leisure Centre

The long awaited reopening of Portlaoise leisure centre could be as little as five weeks away, Laois County Council has said.

The public swimming pool and gym closed in spring 2020 with the arrival of Covid restrictions but the company folded that June due to the lack of income.

The volunteer board of Portarlington Leisure Centre later agreed to take over the council owned site, and reopen it, but multiple repairs costing €300,000 are still underway with Covid and Brexit blamed for worker and materials delays.

Laois County Council CEO John Mulholland this week gave a hopeful date to the September council meeting.

"A clean revitalised and fully functioning centre will be open to the public within about five or six weeks.

"It should be noted that Portarlington Leisure Centre has been open to the public for a couple of months and operating in accordance with Covid-19 guidance," Mr Mulhalland stated in his Monthly Management Report.

The Portarlington Leisure Centre Company Ltd will soon be renamed to cover both centres. The new Operations Manager appointed on September 1 is Sean Quirke who was already manager for the Port centre.

They are now recruiting staff and preparing for reopening.

Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald from Portlaoise said she is still disappointed the centre has not reopened.

"It closed in April 2020, I don't think enough was done in the time it was closed. I am asked about this on a near daily basis. It is a huge facility for the town and county. I spoke to private hotels and they can't take any more members in. I know Covid was in place but I just feel there wasn't enough urgency for the facility that it is," she said.

The CEO defended the pace of work.

"I respectfully disagree. I understand the frustration and disappointment, it's shared by ourselves trying to deal with this poor outcome of Covid. First we had to appoint a not-for-profit board and that was achieved last June. Laois Offaly and Kildare were lockdown with no work permitted. A facility like Portlaoise has to operate at a very high standard, to safeguard staff, the public and equipment. Laois County Council does not operate it, I'm saying that for 18 months.

"When it is reopens it will be a fantastic service to the community. We are in a very positive position now. The news was dark and grim 18 months ago. I'd like to think we can put the past behind us. However we will still have an issue with patronage and people paying," Mr Mulholland said.

Renovations include painting, reopening astroturf pitches, fixing rising damp, roof leak repairs, a new €40,000 hot water supply for showers, new floors, upgraded heating, reconfigured gym, new lights, a new Building Management System, a new reception area, leaks fixed in the children's pool, servicing of all equipment, new IT and gym equipment installations and new doors.

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