West Wicklow’s ‘recreational deficit’ must be addressed

Social Democrats TD for Wicklow Jennifer Whitmore has called for more recreational facilities for West Wicklow saying “COVID19 has revealed the lack of outdoor and indoor recreational spaces for people living in this part of Wicklow and it is time that this is addressed once and for all”.

Deputy Whitmore said:

“Since the advent of the pandemic people across Wicklow have been enjoying, in greater numbers, outdoor spaces in their locality while indoor recreational facilities have been shutdown. But For those in West Wicklow COVID19 has highlighted the lack of space for recreational use. Now that the lifting of restrictions will eventually see facilities reopening across Wicklow, a recreational deficit is emerging in West Wicklow which must be addressed sooner rather than later. 

“Since before I was elected as TD, I was in close contact with a number of community groups in West Wicklow, including the Pool for West Wicklow committee in Blessington, the Allotment group and Blessington Football Club. They have revealed the level of demand for more recreational spaces in the area, particularly for a pool-based facility for use by local residents and surrounding communities. While other parts of Wicklow have enjoyed the establishment of sports complexes, that provide not only community swimming pools, but also pitches and sports facilities, some areas, such as West Wicklow have been left behind. It’s time to address this recreational deficit by moving on the proposals put forward by community groups particularly the Pool for West Wicklow Committee.

“There is sufficient land available to the Council near the Avon Ri Hotel, which has so much potential for development as a recreational centre and I have been in touch with Wicklow Council on the matter who see the potential of such a development. Not only would residents of Blessington benefit from such a development but also surrounding communities who by visiting a centre such as this will bring in more footfall beneficial to local businesses. It would also link in well with the tourism opportunities at the site, particularly once the Blessington Greenway is fully operational.  

“County Wicklow as a commuter town has been experiencing rapid population growth, yet services have not caught up with the needs of expanding communities across the county. Recreational facilities seem to be an afterthought in overall planning and development when really we need to think of recreation as a necessary pillar to the sustainability of any community. Recreational spaces are better for overall health and wellbeing, particularly for young people who have no other options apart from sports-related activities.

“Wicklow Council have been supportive of the concept so far and I hope the opportunity will be grasped to really turn this site into a first-class sports facility for the town and district.

“We need to maximise the funding of community facilities, such as swimming pools, skate parks and robust activity areas through the Sports Capital Programme, and other funding streams. Young and old alike will benefit from more parks, community centres, allotments and green spaces, and recreational centres as proposed by the Pool for West Wicklow Committee. I look forward to working with the Council and the community on these important projects.” concludes Whitmore

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