An Taoiseach Enda Kenny personally launched news of a €12.5 million National Outdoor Pursuits Academy for Castlebar at Lough Lannagh Village, Castlebar last night (Wednesday).
The collaborative effort between GMIT, Mayo County Council and Castlebar Town Council will see a new swimming pool complex and National Training Centre for outdoor pursuits at Lough Lannagh while Phase 2 of the complex will see a six-lane tartan running track and four playing fields located across from GMIT, behind the Halting Site in Castlebar.
Speaking at the launch, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny gave his backing to the project.
“This project will become a reality. It will add immeasurably to the town. I want to see this become a reality as quickly as possible. What’s here in this development is something which will have my support and we’ll see to it that it becomes a reality,” he said.
He added that the ‘shared services’ aspect of the project was crucial in it going ahead.
“It is part of the overall government standards that we need around the country where you have shared services, you have co-operation and, when we’re in challenging times, you still have to provide very important facilities for people all over the country, in this case here.
“This is an example of a challenge where co-operation and shared services can actually produce magnificent results,” he said.
There have been calls for a new swimming pool in Castlebar for many years. The proposed 3000 metres squared pool complex will incorporate a 25m swimming pool, toddler pool, fitness gym, aerobics room and climbing wall.
The site will include access to the lake and a floating pontoon. Also on site will be lecture rooms and storage for equipment for outdoor pursuits. Among the activities which are expected to take place at the outdoor pursuits academy are kayaking, canoeing, orienteering, flat water slalom, wheelchair accessible fishing.
Proponents of the project hope that it will ‘establish the Castlebar campus of GMIT as a centre of excellent in outdoor pursuits education and training’.
County Manager Peter Hynes said that the centre will be ‘as important’ for Castlebar in tourism terms as the Greenway has been for the Clew Bay region.
He explained that close to 75 per cent of the €12.5 million cost was in place. €3.8 million has been set aside from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport for a new pool in Castlebar. GMIT are putting forward €2.5 million, Mayo County Council and Castlebar Town Council are contributing €1.25 million each while the balance of the funding will be the subject of applications to Fáilte Ireland and the 2012 Sports Capital Project.
Chairman of GMIT Des Mahon described the project as ‘a very, very exciting project’ and praised An Taoiseach Enda Kenny whose ‘enthusiasm for the project has been extraordinary’.
Castlebar Town Manager Seamus Granahan said that a planning application was placed in a national newspaper today (Thursday) and that Part 8 planning proposals (public consultation) should be before Castlebar Town Council in September. The target completion date for the project is 2014.
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