Nenagh Municipal District Council is adamant that it was not “caught on the hop” by flooding that forced it to close the new town park.
The park was closed from last Friday week until Sunday, November 16, following overnight torrential rain that saw the Nenagh River rise several feet.
“Nobody was caught on the hop,” district manager Marcus O’Connor told Cllr Seamus Morris. “We predicted it. We gave a briefing to the consultants that flooding was an issue.”
He said the design allowed for raised pathways that would let parts of the park flood.
“I am astonished people would say they were surprised. It will flood on average up to three times a year. You can’t just build up the flood plane. We built up the skateboard area and put in the pond to compensate for flooding. People made foolish comments on social media,” he said.
Mr O’Connor said people were voting with their feet by going to the park and the leisure centre. He also pointed out that the Abbey Court Hotel was delighted with the park and were using it in their promotional material.
Cllr Morris had asked how safe the park was after the flooding, raising concerns that sewage may have been in the water.
“The park has been seriously compromised. It is a concern that bacteria may have been in the water. What type of diseases did it leave behind?” he asked.
Cllr Morris also called for the park to be fenced off from the river and said the council needed a protocol for when it was to be closed.
“You’d have some job trying to chase a child down the river. It is a fast flowing river and I would be wrong not to say it,” he said.
However, Mr O’Connor said the river was an intrinsic part of the park and fencing it off was “not an option”.
He pointed out that the council did not fence off the lake at Dromineer, where there is a playground, saying: “If the Cliffs of Moher were in Tipperary some genius would want an ugly fence around it.”
Cllr Hughie McGrath agreed that people were delighted with the park and said the council’s engineers should not just investigate flooding at the amenity, but also along the Nenagh River as there were parts of Millersbrook flooded as well the entrance at Nenagh Brickfields and extra water in fields on the Birr Road.
“Is there something forcing the water to back up?” he asked.
He said the flood at Millersbrook was up to one foot deep and stretched for about 40 metres, while in Bruach Tailte, the water was almost into the driveways.
Mr O’Connor replied that he would check the flood gates for historic flood data.