Nenagh’s new town park and revamped leisure centre were offically opened this Monday by the Minister for the Environment, Alan Kelly.
The park was the brainchild of former town councillor Lalor McGee, and Minister Kelly paid tribute to his Labour colleague who collected 2,500 signatures in the lead-up to the 2009 local elections in favour of a park.
“He dedicated his time to make sure it would happen,” said Minister Kelly.
He also acknowledged all the local councillors who had worked to deliver the facility.
Minister Kelly said the opening was a special day and described the park as a “much needed facility for the town and its hinterland”.
With the refurbished leisure centre and the town park, Nenagh now had one of the best leisure and recreational facilities in the country, he said.
“When I was a Junior Minister in the Department of Transport, Tourism & Sport, I was delighted to be in a position to help this facility receive the largest sports capital allocation in the country under the Government’s Sports Capital Grants Programme.
“The allocation of €400,000 came on top the €169,970 I announced for improved energy efficiency and enhanced disabled access in Nenagh Leisure Centre. The €400,000 in Sports Capital Funding went towards an upgrade of the changing facilities and the gym at Nenagh’s Leisure Centre. It also provided for a skateboard park, a track, a keep fit area and outdoor gym, among a range of other facilities,” he said.
Minister Kelly also paid tribute to council officials, particularly Marcus O’Connor and Joe McGrath, Tom Mackey, manager of the leisure centre; Nicola Tinkler, who helped Lalor McGee with the original petition, and Johnny Whelan, “who has dreamed of this day for many, many years and put in years of work behind the scenes”.
County CEO Joe MacGrath revealed that since the improvement works had taken place there had been a 34 per cent increase in the numbers of people using the leisure centre. This figure did not include the large numbers of people using the adjoining town park.
“The park will be there for generations coming after us and that is something to be proud of,” he said.
The Cathaoirleach of Tipperary County Council, Cllr Michael Fitzgerald, said the new facility was a major asset for Nenagh and the huge numbers using it since it opened last October was testament to its quality and attractiveness.
Blessing the amenity, Fr Des Hillery said: “Many a generation went into putting it together. It is an honour to follow in their footsteps.”
The contract for the town park was valued at €2.149m and was awarded to PJ McLoughlin and Sons. The town park was funded through a €400,000 Sports Capital Grant; €770,000 from Nenagh Town Council funding and the balance being made up of development levies.
The revamped leisure centre has an upgraded gym and aerobic studios complete with TV screens and sound systems, new changing areas, including family and disabled changing areas, and shower, as well as a Jacuzzi.