“Embarrassing” St Columb’s Park running track to be raised at Council meeting

The current state of the St. Columb’s Park running track is expected to be raised at a Health and Community Committee meeting of Derry and Strabane District Council on Thursday.

The poor condition of the running track at St. Columb's Park is set to be raised at a committee meeting of Derry City & Strabane District Council this Thursday.
The poor condition of the running track at St. Columb's Park is set to be raised at a committee meeting of Derry City & Strabane District Council this Thursday.

The surface of the track has come in for heavy criticism with some users on social media branding it a “disgrace”, “an embarrassment” and one even labelling it “dangerous” after ongoing problems with drainage were compounded by the recent heavy rainfall and increased usage through events like the recent Waterside Half Marathon.

A number of local representatives have already pledged to raise the track’s current condition which has seen the surface badly cut up and holding water over recent days, making it almost impossible for local clubs like the Derry Track Club to utilise the facility.

“The track is in a terrible state at the moment and it’s very sad to see given the amount of people who enjoy using it,” explained Derry Track Club treasurer, Malcolm McCausland, “Put simply, it is an embarrassment and reflects terribly on the city. Given that the wider St. Columb’s Park area is one of the jewels in the council’s crown and such a great public space, it doesn’t make any sense for one of the most popular parts of the park to be allowed to fall into this condition

Heavy rainfall and increased footfall has damaged the surface of the running track at St. Columb's Park.

“The track is not simply an athletics facility, I’d see it as more of a community facility. It’s widely used by many groups and individuals and is a very important facility in terms of the overall health of the city, something we all need to be encouraging.

“I’d actually love to see lights installed which would open it up further for walkers in the evenings, but first and foremost something has to be done regarding the surface which needs immediate action.”

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Mr McCausland, a renowned local athletics coach and commentator, said it was his hope that the Council would seriously consider future development of the track which he believes holds huge potential in terms of Derry’s leisure and sporting community.

“I’d love to see a 4G surface installed with a 200m track surrounding the football pitch, something that would allow it to be used by schools during the day and local clubs in the evening at any time of the year,” he added, “Athletics is booming within the city, at all ages and abilities, and a 4G surface would allow for an even wider user base to enjoy the track and the wider park which is already well used.”

Commenting on the current problems with the track at St. Columb’s Park, a Council statement said further works are planned to deal with the damage.

“There are ongoing issues with drainage at the St Columb’s Park running track which have led to the track cutting up and retaining water after periods of heavy rainfall and footfall,” read a statement, “Work has previously been carried out to improve drainage on the site, however heavy rainfall and footfall at the Waterside Half Marathon caused further damage. Council officers are currently undertaking remedial works to address the latest surface damage.”