AN offer by Ennis Parish to give the CYMS Community Hall to Ennis Town Council has been withdrawn.
Councillors at this week’s meeting of Ennis Town Council were confused and disappointed when town manager Ger Dollard informed them that the parish had written to the council stating that discussions were ongoing with interested community groups to take over the building and that the offer of its transfer to Ennis Town Council “no longer exists”.
The facility had originally been offered to the council by the Bishop of Killaloe, Dr Willie Walsh in 2008 and the council had been criticised by councillors for not moving to take over the hall.
Mayor of Ennis, Frankie Neylon claimed that the parish had no right to withdraw the offer as the hall belonged to the people of Ennis. But Mr Dollard replied that there are “significant issues” in relation to the CYMS property and that the council do not propose to proceed any further in relation to any possible acquisition of the property at this time.
Councillor Johnny Flynn asked if the council would think again about the matter. But most councillors at the meeting said they were opposed to the council taking over the hall, due to the high costs associated with it.
“I have no notion of supporting the taking over of the hall as it stands and putting the council and the people of Ennis in debt to the tune of €1.75 million,” Councillor Tommy Brennan said.
An assessment report by the council of the hall found that the annual operational costs of running it are approximately €90,000. The report also stated that the building was subject some years ago to assessment by consulting engineers and the representatives of the parish had indicated that a sum of €1.5m was put on refurbishing the building. In addition, it was pointed out that the current oil heating system was installed in 1971 and is proving difficult to maintain. The report also found that there was an asbestos roof on a large portion of the building with an asphalt roof on a portion of the property and that there are a variety of issues in relation to the building structure and accessibility.
Eddie Power, town clerk, also pointed out that there are seven different parties using the building on a regular basis, two of which have been using the facility for in excess of 40 years. There are also a number of other groups who use the facility on an infrequent basis.
The report also said that the parish had discussions with a number of parties over the property but problems had arisen in relation to the particular proposals for the site arising from its listed building status.
Councillor Peter Considine said the council was not in a position to make that kind of investment in the CYMS Hall. He added that if there is a community group in the town prepared to take on the hall, the council should negotiate with them.
Councillor Mary Howard commented that the CYMS Hall was offered to the council two years ago and the offer wasn’t acted upon.
“We have no right to be angry now that it’s been offered to other parties,” she said.
Mayor Neylon said that it is a big issue for a lot of councillors because both they and their parents are “connected” to the hall. “Also, the bishop sat at the table with us and said he wanted us to take it for the people of Ennis,” he remarked.
Councillor Mary Coote-Ryan said the question was “simple”. “Can this council afford it?” she asked. All councillors answered that the council could not.
The council executive agreed on the cost implications of the hall with Mr Dollard, repeating that they would not proceed any further to acquire the property at this time.