WESTPORT’S municipal leisure complex last week received a major financial boost from Junior Minister for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring. The centre was awarded €359,550 as part of a €4.4 million tranche of funding, which aims to improve access for people with disabilities as well as increase the centre’s energy efficiency.
Nineteen leisure centres across the state benefited from the grants, which also aim to make the facilities less reliant on the State.
Announcing the funding awards, Minister Ring said: “I am delighted to be able to improve access and facilities for people with disabilities. The new €4.4 million of grants will be used for a range of purposes, depending on the pool, including providing ramps, hoists, widening doorways or new changing facilities.”
He observed that large heating bills were the single biggest cost in running swimming pools, and explained that this funding would cut back the burden on the taxpayer by decreasing the carbon footprint of the centres.
“It’s particularly welcome that the grants will have a positive effect on employment levels, helping to sustain jobs and in some cases create new ones”.
Responding to the news, Dermott Langan, the General Manager at Westport Leisure Park, said: “We are delighted as this funding will make the centre more energy efficient. In the last two years we spent €396,000 on energy and water. We will now convert to CHP (Combined Heat and Power). At present, because of the temperature of the pool, we are dumping heat through our air-conditioning system. With the new system we will harness the heat of the pool and convert it into energy.”
He told The Mayo News that the funding would also facilitate the harvesting of rain water on the roof.
“At the end of the day this huge cost-saving for us is, in turn, also a saving for the ratepayer,” Dermott Langan said. He said the substantial grant was a ‘vote of confidence’ in the leisure park by both Minister Ring and his department. He also observed that since it was already ‘renowned nationally’ for its facilities for the disabled, the included funding for this sector was very welcome.