Row over plan by Council to move into old museumSeptember 11, 2012 - 7:30am
BY ENDA CUNNINGHAM
City councillors have voiced angry opposition to plans by officials to transform Comerford House at Spanish Arch to office space in an effort to cut the local authority’s rent bill.
And the Council is looking at moving workers out of the new Yeats’ College Grammar School building, where the Transportation Department has been based for several years.
Director of Service for Planning, Tom Connell, told councillors last night that specialist consultants have been engaged to assess the building’s – the former city museum – suitability for use as offices.
However, councillors reacted angrily to the proposal, saying they had rejected the idea on previous occasions and would prefer it to be used for community and arts use.
Mr Connell said he expected to receive the consultants’ report in the next two to three months and the idea came about because of the Council’s need to reduce its rent bill. It was proposed that the Community and Arts Department could work from the building, which was donated to the old Galway Corporation by the Comerford family.
Cllr Peter Keane (FF) said it would be sacrilege to even consider using the property for offices, and an insult to the sentiment of the Comerford family.
Cllr Catherine Connolly (Ind) said she was extremely disappointed that the proposal had previously been unanimously rejected by councillors and it was again on the agenda.
“It’s deeply worrying that management are proceeding regardless and it’s extremely worrying for democracy. It would be an appalling use of the former museum to use it for office space. It’s time to stop this and listen to the councillors,” she said.
Interim City Manager Joe O’Neill told councillors they were not being asked to make a decision, that it was purely for their information that the item was on the agenda.
“Right now, it’s not fit for use by anybody. This [consultants’] report has to be done anyhow. If there are structural concerns, it may not be fit for use by anybody. It may be too costly to do anything with it.
“We’re paying a lot out for rent [of office accommodation], it’s a six figure sum every year. I have an obligation to provide accommodation for staff at the least cost to the Council. It would be irresponsible of me if I ignored it [Comerford House].
Read more in today’s Connacht Sentinel