After nine years of public campaigning, Portlaoise skateboarders have finally been given a site to reopen their park.
Agreement was reached a fortnight ago with Portlaoise Leisure Centre, to install the park’s jumps and ramps on their grounds, next to the outdoor gym, to open before summer.
The group is thrilled at the news.
“We're all delighted. It's been a long road to finally get the park back in Portlaoise and it's great to be so close to finally seeing it materialise. We're all very excited to have the park back and can't wait to just go and skate,” said spokesperson Chris Craig.
Their first preference was the council plaza.
“We are all happy to have it located now beside the leisure centre. We had suggested many locations to the council but none seemed to suffice, we mentioned the leisure centre back in 2009 but it wasn't available,” he said.
The skaters were consulted on the new plan.
“ We were all involved in the layout of the ramps this time round and it was great to finally see the park layout on paper. We hope to be able to extend it with a few new additions in the coming years,” Mr Craig said, thanking all involved, particularly Cll Noel Touhy for his “great help in the past year”.
The news was announced at February’s county council meeting by Cllr Willie Aird, who is board chairman at the leisure centre.
“With Cllr Noel Tuohy, we have agreed to put the skate park at the leisure centre. That should keep everyone happy, especially all the young lads,” he said.
Cllr Tuohy who had campaigned in recent years for it, thanked council staff for their help to find a new home for the park, particularly sports officer Ann-Marie Maher for her “trojan work”.
“We are hopeful it will be ready in the next month. We wanted some place that was visible, for health and safety reasons. I am happy for the skaters, and proud to have been involved in securing a new home, it has been a long wait. The council and the leisure centre have been very supportive,” he told the Leinster Express afterwards.
Portlaoise opened the midland’s first skateboard park in 2005 on Church Avenue. It was on the site of the old church, land owned by the Presentation Sisters.
It was shut just two years later to make way for classroom prefabs.
The €60,000 government funded wooden ramps were damaged while in storage by Laois County Council, but have since been repaired.