the former site of Mountmellick’s library is set to be reopened as a park for adults and toddlers in mid May.
The grassy riverside site across from the MDA in Irishtown will retain it’s mature poplar trees, but will not have any swings, zip wires or other typical features of a playground however, as Laois County Council say it is too small and too close to the river.
“It is not a suitable location for a full playground, we are standing by that. This space is for quieter recreation, for everyone to use,” said Sports Officer with the council, Anne Marie Maher. S
he said that the children of the town are catered for by the Smiths Field playground.
The tree planted by then President Mary Robinson and its plaque have been removed, but Ms Maher believes the plaque will be placed in a different location in the park.
The council have also decided it is unnecessary to fence off the Owenass river, which flows beside the length of the park.
“There is no need for railing. It would destroy the river. We have assessed it from a safety point of view. We will look at enclosing the toddler area, which is near the front of the park,” said Ms Maher. She also said that two more lifebouy stations will be placed there.
Toddlers will have a sand and water play area, and a boat-themed climbing frame. There will be a path circuiting the site, allowing children to rollerskate, cycle or walk around. The council got a Sports Capital grant of €40,900 for outdoor table tennis tables, and six pieces of outdoor gym equipment. Insurance money that was paid following a fire at the old library, now demolished, also went towards the new park.
The people of Mountmellick will have to familiarise themselves with the rules of chess, boules and horseshoe pitching, as these are all to be installed at the park. There are hopes to plant a community garden there also, as a project to bring old and young together. The low wall will remain but low beech hedging has been added and a new gate will be installed,
Ms Maher says flooding prevention work was done on the river Owenass two years ago, and this should be sufficient to stop any more floods of the site, long affected during heavy rains.
“Even if there was a flash flood, it wouldn’t be destroyed. The benches are recycled plastic and the equipment is metal,” she said.
Cllr Bobby Delaney, who has long campaigned to get a playground at the old library site, welcomed the park, but fears vandalism could be a problem, as has plagued the Smiths Fields playground.
“A lot of thought should be put into it before it opens, there’s no point spending good money after bad. The only problem with any playpark is vandalism, not during open hours, but from 9pm to 12pm. The Smiths Field playground should be immediately closed, it’s only fair on the people in College Avenue,” he said.