While there is no certainty regarding £2.5 million funding required for new community and leisure facilities in Dungiven, officials have revealed they are continuing to move forward with plans for the project.
In the pipeline for the last four years, the project began with the former Limavady Borough Council with an initial estimated cost in the region of £7 million, including securing £2.5 million funding from DCAL.
This needs to be built and in operation by March 31, 2017, so we have to move quickly. The decision whether this proceeds or not is based on the funding.Richard Baker, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council
The project has since been scaled back under the new Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council and, on Monday, officials presented five options for new facilities, with details and costings outlined at a meeting at The Sports Pavilion in Dungiven. None of the funding is coming from the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council.
One of the options presented included a ‘split site’ project with an overall cost of more than £3 million. Those in attendance heard, however, there was only one viable option at this time, which is a ‘single-site’ provision located at Curragh Road, with provision including a main hall, smaller halls, gym plus 3G facility, costing in excess of £2.5 million.
Richard Baker, development director at Causeway Coast and Glens Council made it clear that “nothing has been confirmed”, stating there is no letter of offer from DCAL. He said he believed DCAL was bidding for the money and agreed there was “uncertainty surrounding the funding for this project”.
“If funding comes forward we can make the project work. This project now, we need the money and the money needs to come from central government to do the project and we have a very tight timeframe. This needs to be built and in operation by March 31, 2017, so we have to move quickly. The decision whether this proceeds or not is based on the funding,” said Mr Baker.
Among the approximately 30 people at the meeting were residents, representatives from local sporting clubs including Gaelic football, camogie and soccer, and a number of politicians.
One resident expressed concern about noise pollution, traffic levels, the impact of floodlights, and opening hours of the single-site facility.
Another resident, Lorraine Hartin claimed not all residents had been informed of the meeting and said it felt as if residents’ voices were not being heard. The resident was angry about fencing at the proposed facility, how high it would be and its proximity to her home. She also asked if there was just one viable option ‘why are we here?’ Ms Hartin said with the single-site option the last green area in the town would disappear.
James McMacken of St. Canice’s GAC said with so many clubs in the town, “new facilities are badly needed”.
“At this stage we are going to have to take what we can get,” said Mr McMacken.
Representatives from St. Patrick’s Camogie Club and from St. Canice’s Ladies GFC said currently they don’t have anywhere permanent to train, which they said was “discouraging” for players and felt “Like we’re always on the beg”.
Seamus Harkin of Dungiven Celtic Football Club said it was a ‘take it or leave it, take what you can get’ scenario, adding: “There’s a long way to go - funding isn’t in place yet.”
Sinn Fein Colr. Brenda Chivers said: “The current Sports Pavilion isn’t fit-for-purpose so there is a need for a new build. We are hopeful we will secure the funding, and we will fight for it.”
SDLP Colr. Gerry Mullan said: “I do think the project is feasible, and I believe the project will progress, and I have every confidence in council officers to ensure it will do. It’s all subject to the money being agreed by the minister, but I do think that will come as well,” said Colr Mullan.
SDLP Colr. Orla Beattie said: “Not everyone will be happy, but I think that is always going to be the case. I know with the single-site option, there will be some groups that will not be catered for, including the ladies football and camogie, and I think in the future we will have to try to get facilities for them. With the time limits concerning DCAL and funding, plus with what’s going on at Stormont, Dungiven could end up with nothing other than the building we’re in and we know that’s not going to be fit-for-purpose in a few years,” said Colr. Beattie.
Sinn Fein Colr. Sean McGlinchey said he appreciated residents’ concerns, and pointed out he lives close to where the single site option will be located.
“We haven’t got the money yet, but I am confident that will come. The minister came here a couple of years ago and she said she was appalled at the facilities. We have people in this town, people with disabilities, older people, who can’t use these facilities. We have to do better than that. The project has to happen.”
(More in Friday’s Journal).