THE dispute between the residents of the Cloughleigh Road and Ennis Town Council over the proposed location of the Ennis Youth and Community Building took another twist this week when the council advertised for tenders for the construction of the building.
Members of the Residents for the Relocation of the Ennis Youth and Community Building Cloughleigh Road said they were appalled when they saw the invitation for tenders for the construction of the building last week.
“It beggars belief that the executive of Ennis Town Council intends spending taxpayers’ money to construct a building in a totally unsuitable location, while keeping quiet about the offer of the building known as the Community Centre Chapel Lane, which was made by Bishop of Killaloe, Dr Willie Walsh. Ennis Town Council has obviously refused this offer if they intend to proceed with the development on Cloughleigh Road,” a spokeswoman for the residents said.
She continued, “It is totally unacceptable to us that public monies be squandered in such a fashion at a time when this country is awash with debt.
“It is time for accountability on the value we taxpayers are getting for our money. Cloughleigh is already lucky enough to have a community centre and now also has a resource house, which cost approximately €80,000 to refurbish recently.”
The residents said their initial concerns regarding the location of the development have increased with time.
“We have grave reservations about the construction of a building a couple of metres from the river on a site that was flooded a week before the town flooded. We are aware that there are works being carried out on this section of the river.
“Unfortunately, the flooding that occurred was caused by water coming from above the site, where there is no proposal to carry out any remedial works,” the spokeswoman added.
However, a spokesman for Ennis Town Council responded that the risk of flooding at the site of the proposed facility was assessed at the planning stage.
“The site in question is protected under the OPW’s River Fergus Upper Flood Relief Scheme. The site was inspected by the council at the height of the severe spell of weather in November 2009 and the council is satisfied that no issues arose in this regard,” he said.
The residents also feel that there is a very serious health and safety issue in a premise proposing to have activities for teenagers and open until 10pm every evening being so close to a river.
“Our solicitors have requested from the town manager any reports on the flooding and his records of the consultation process he says occurred before the vote on the development. To date, he has furnished neither. Ennis Town Council intends either handing over or leasing the building to Clare Youth Service on its completion, so any assurances made by them to residents will almost certainly become null and void when the handing over occurs,” she commented.
The spokeswoman continued, “At a time when organisations such as Clare Youth Service are having their funding drastically reduced and having difficulty maintaining their essential services, we have to ask where they think money to run a youth café in Cloughleigh is going to come from.
“We are calling on our elected members of Ennis Town Council to explain to us how they could possibly support spending money on a building in an unsuitable location when a building already exists that only requires some refurbishment. The site of the proposed development is in one of the older residential areas of Ennis. Buildings such as the one proposed are traditionally best suited to streetscapes.”
Responding to the concerns raised by the residents, the town council said it is cognisant of the necessity to invest in facilities and services that are of benefit to the young people and the wider community.
“The proposed facility brings with it significant social and recreational benefits for the local community and will complement the town’s existing social infrastructure, including the CYMS Hall in Chapel Lane, which continues to facilitate a wide range of community groups and services, as it has done so for many years.
The proposed development of the Ennis Youth and Community Resource Building has gone through the planning process and the council has made a decision to proceed with the development,” a council spokesman said.
He added that the council executive had offered to meet with local residents regarding the proposed development.
“This offer was rejected. The council executive remains available to meet with these residents to discuss the Ennis Youth and Community Resource Building in Cloughleigh,” he stated.