Skatepark campaign for Portarlington flipped onto Laois County Council's agenda

Conor Ganly

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Conor Ganly

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news@leinsterexpress.ie

skatepark

The skatepark at the Portlaoise Leisure Centre

A group that is trying to set up a skatepark in Portarlington will have to prove is needed, have a site and permission as well as having some way of paying for it, according to Laois County Council. 

The reply was given to Cllr Aidan Mullins who raised the campaign for a park in the Laois Offaly town with council officials recently.

He told the recent Portarlington Graiguecullen Municipal District meeting that an online campaign has hundreds of signatures since being set up this autumn.

“There is a lot of support locally,” he said.

Cllr Mullins said a lot of families would avail of the facility but the only one in Laois is in Portlaoise. He said three Kildare towns have skateparks. 

“Girls and boys would use this. They are not all into sports. It is great to get them involved in something that is classified as being outside normal sports. There is not many activities some kids can get involved in,” he said.

He praised Cllr Noel Touhy for a ‘long and hard’ fight to get the equipment to be installed in Portlaoise. 

Cllr Mullins said the facility would also help support mental health during the Covid-19 restrictions.

“I think a skate park fulfils that need,” said the Sinn Féin councillor.

Cllr Mullins hoped that a site could be secured with the help of the council. He accepted that finding funding does present an issue but he added it is a piece of leisure infrastructure that is lacking in Portarlington.  

He told the meeting, which was attended by the council's Director of Finance, Gerry Murphy, that a submission would be made to Laois County Council which is preparing a regeneration strategy for the town.

Cllr Paschal McEvoy backed his colleague. He said Portarlington is the second biggest town in the county and needs one.  

In a written reply, Carmel McNicholl SEO at the council’s Community and Enterprise section said that as with the development of all recreational facilities the following criteria require further consideration: a clear demonstration of need; an available site and relevant permissions; funding sources.

She added that Laois County Council’s Sports and Leisure Officer is available to meet local representatives to discuss further.

The Petition was started by Claire Shields.

“We are seeking support and measuring interest in a campaign to have a skate park built in our town. Skate parks offer our kids and young adults a structured way of enjoying their activity outdoors in a safer and less anti-social environment. 

“We are looking to engage with Laois County Council to identify a suitable place and source funding to enhance our young people's ability to partake in an outdoor activity with other like-minded people which will also help them socially engage with their peers,” she said.

More than 450 have put their names to the petition which can be signed at change.org here

Derry Now reported last month that it was approving £20,000 for a skatepark in its area.