Kildare County Council has voted against a proposal to apply for a public swimming pool for north Kildare amidst claims that Leixlip has been “sold out”.
At its monthly meeting last Monday, January 28, the council voted 21-8 against a proposal from the Celbridge-Leixlip Municipal District committee that the Council seek funding from the Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund for a pool at the preferred Leixlip Amenities Centre (LAC).
There were two abstentions and ten members were not present for the vote.
The application must be in to the government by April 17.
Leixlip Amenities Centre has for a long time been the preferred location for a public pool for north Kildare, and Leixlip locals have had a pool at the top of their list for many years.
But the council voted instead to support an application for a public pool in conjunction with Maynooth University.
A few years ago, an application for a pool at the former St Patrick’s College site, which many understood to be the university pool, was turned down because the council did not have control of the land.
Cllr Anthony Larkin, speaking in support of LAC venue, said Leixlip and surrounding areas will be experiencing rapid growth with another thousand houses, at least, on the way.
The council heard from Director of Services, Sonya Kavanagh in a written reply. “This is a matter for the members to agree however it has always been the council's position that from a strategic point of view, the county should have three public swimming pools; one in the south of the county, one mid county and one in the north of the county.
“Two public swimming pools are already in situ so the pool for the north of the county is the one outstanding and Kildare County Council will definitely be making an application to the Large Scale Sports Infrastructure Fund for this project. The issue is then whether the pool should be in Leixlip or in Maynooth. There are a number of factors that would sway the project towards Maynooth. The original site for the pool was Leixlip but the land at the Leixlip Amenities facility is now almost fully allocated.
"Kildare County Council are working with Maynooth University to secure a site. In terms of funding the council has set aside capital funding of €2 million euro for a project in the Maynooth area.
“The Large Scale Sports Infrastructure Fund encourages partnership and the council feels that an application with Maynooth University would be well received.
“The council is aware that funding has already been allocated for a public swimming pool in Lucan. It is suggested that its proximity to Leixlip would work against any application for a pool in Leixlip. Based on all of the above I am suggesting to the councillors that the council make one application to the Large Scale Sports Infrastructure Fund for a pool in North Kildare and the application should be for a public swimming pool in Maynooth.”
Cllr Naoise O’Cearuil opposed the motion saying they had funds for a pool in Maynooth since the 1960’s.
“Maynooth is ideal and three miles from Celbridge, Leixlip, Kilcock and Dunboyne, equally,” he said.
Cllr John McGinley also opposed the motion and said it should be left to the officials to decided.
Supporting the motion, Cllr Ide Cussen said between them Celbridge and Leixlip had a 40,000 population.
She said Maynooth University had lots of investments and could deliver its own pool.
She said a public pool is needed.
“We always expected a pool in Leixlip,” she said.
Supporting the Leixlip venue, Cllr Joe Neville, a director of the Amenities Centre board on behalf of the county council, said he was concerned the public could be pushed back from a university pool.
Cllr Brendan Young said he was a “bit shocked” at the official position saying the university will have 13,000 students. He feared the public may only be able to use it at night.
He said the decision should not be an either or between Leixlip and Maynooth. Cllr Young said it was not a good idea to designate the decision to officials.
Cllr Reada Cronin supported the Maynooth location.
“It makes sense,” she said.
“Leixlip and Celbridge councillors should look at the big picture and not be parish pump.”
Cllr Tim Durkan said it would be “ludicrous” to make two applications and this would make a “complete hames” of seeking a north Kildare pool.
He said there was a lot of misinformation.
Cllr Durkan said the pool on the university was owned by St Patrick’s College not the university.
Cllr Michael Coleman supported the Leixlip venue.
“It is ideal. It was always the proposed location,” he said of the council owned land.
Cllr Bernard Caldwell said the a university pool would be on a private site.
“Leixlip has been promised for the last 20 years,” he said, asking where a pool would be sited in Maynooth and noting the location of Intel just beside the Amenities Centre.
Ms Kavanagh said that if the council could not agree, she doubted if the funders would make a decision on any north Kildare site.
“If there are two (applications) we will get nothing. People will have to pick sides.
Chief Executive, Peter Carey, said the fact that Lucan is just down the road from Leixlip is a consideration. It said the council has done a lot of work with Maynooth University “behind the scenes” and it is seen as the best avenue.
Cllr Larkin said he feared the public would have difficulty with a Maynooth pool and felt the council should put two applications in.
He said his club, MU Barnhall, is linked to the university but there is pressure on facilities at Maynooth, even when a senior All Ireland rugby team is seeking them.
The university could grow to 26,000 over the next five to eight years and could build a pool for themselves.
Cllr Bernard Caldwell said: “We have been sold out and are on a hiding to nothing. It is a disgrace. It is a very sad day for Leixlip Amenities Centre.”
Cllr Naoise O’Cearuil said two applications would be “selfish”.
Cllr Kevin Byrne sought a five minutes recess so that some arrangement might be come to without a division and withdraw the Celbridge-Leixlip proposal.
Following the break, Cllr Larkin said they would not withdraw it.