Bosco to miss out on golden opportunity?
Proposals to replace the existing Bosco Centre in Donegal Town are being held up due to legal difficulties relating to land ownership issues. Donegal Times has learned that the St John Bosco committee received a proposal from Keeney Construction Limited on 23rd June 2004 to provide them with a new state-of-the-art sports and community centre on the site of the redundant athletics track in the town. In exchange Keeney Construction Limited was seeking to include the land currently occupied by the Bosco Centre, and which is adjacent to the livestock mart, within their plans for a new shopping centre.
The proposed sports and community centre, designed by Irelands leading leisure consultants, Holohan Architects, was to be built at an estimated cost of €1.8 million. It is understood that the Bosco Club was also to receive a cash donation of €100,000 for fit-out and gym equipment. The deal being accepted would have meant that a new 12,500 sq. ft centre, incorporating a multi-purpose sports-hall, stage, squash court, fitness gym, health suite, toilets, changing facilities, and meeting rooms would be built, and handed over to the Bosco Committee, before the developer would progress works on the shopping centre, thereby minimising disturbance to existing users.
When contacted by the Times, Danny Keeney of Keeney Construction Limited confirmed that representatives of his company had been in discussions with the Bosco Club for the last six months and had made an offer to them for the old athletics track. In exchange for this, Mr Keeney said that he was proposing to build a new sports and community centre and furthermore to provide assistance to the Bosco Club, in association with Holohan Leisure Consultants, to make applications for additional funding and grant aid for the future development of a swimming pool; crèche and all-weather pitches. He confirmed that initial discussions with the Councils chief planner, Jim Harley and his assistant Denis Kelly, had generated a positive reaction and he was confident that planning permission would be granted for the new facilities. Mr Keeney felt that the Bosco Club was in a win-win situation because if the community centre could not be delivered, works could not commence on the Bosco Centre lands.
Mr Keeney said he had received a letter from F. Gallagher and Co. Solicitors, a few weeks ago, alerting him to the legal difficulties about land ownership and advising that the Bosco Committee did not consider that they would be in a position to enter into an agreement with him or even to negotiate terms unless and until they were successful in securing from Donegal County Council satisfactory legal arrangements relating to the athletics track and a parcel of land adjacent to the existing centre.
Mr Keeney expressed his disappointment that neither the Council nor the Bosco Club had made any progress in resolving the legal arrangements since negotiations began with the Committee members over six months ago. We had already spent in excess of €50,000 on the Bosco Club project and had commissioned a full site investigation before their solicitor dropped this bombshell, he said. We were criticised before our discussions began for not meeting with the Bosco Club sooner, but now, after going to considerable expense and making a proposal to them, it is unbelievable that they are not even in a position to facilitate an agreement. Donegal Town is the first place I have ever come across where obstacles are put in your way no matter what improvements you try to make. If it were any other town in Ireland, committee members would be queuing up at the Council Offices and demanding that these legal issues be resolved immediately. Regrettably, we cannot wait indefinitely for the Bosco Club and the Council to get themselves sorted out as we need to submit an application for our shopping centre as soon as possible on the Mart lands. If this were to happen, the Bosco lands would be considerably devalued as a result and a golden opportunity for the Bosco Club to get new modern facilities would be lost.
First day at School
Pictures by Jason McGarrigle
Robertson NS, Ballintra: Jessica Doherty, Emily Mahon, Aaron Anderson, Nikita Dinsmore with principal, John Barnett
St Eunans, Laghey: Siobhan OHara, Vincent Breslin, Leah Kilpatrick, Sharleen OLoughlan with teacher Mrs Anne Meehan
Killian NS, Sarah Arnold and Patrick Breslin
Killaghtee NS: Kyle Maxwell, Shawn Dobbyn and Jacob Steel with teacher, Nuala Dudley
Inver NS, Abbie Boyle, Joanne Crawford, William Anderson, Thomas Armstrong, Ben Sweeney
More pictures on pages 12 & 13 of print edition of Donegal Times