Shantalla locals furious over Cllr's proposal to sell park to developerOctober 16, 2012 - 9:00am
By Denise McNamara
A fresh row is brewing over Shantalla Park with residents rejecting a proposal from a city councillor that it should be developed into a primary health care centre with any money raised to be ring-fenced for sports facilities in the area.
Councillor Ollie Crowe (FF) said he believes there is a lot of support for a health facility to be developed on the site behind the red railings between the rear entrance of University Hospital Galway and Arch Motors on the Seamus Quirke Road.
It would be home to GPs, nurses, therapists, social workers and homecare staff and would serve to ease pressure on UHG, as well as being convenient to a very sizeable population in the area.
The land which currently has a recreation and amenity zoning would have to be rezoned by the full Council.
“This land hasn’t been used for 35 to 40 years. It’s wasteland. I’d be hoping a suitable company would come in and purchase the land, which could net a six figure sum, and this could be ring-fenced to finish facilities at St Michael’s GAA and Corrib Rangers soccer club,” he explained.
“Nobody has got any use out of it. It is the ideal location for a health care centre and would be of huge benefit for the Westside area.”
However the Shantalla Residents’ Association said it objected to the sale of public land to a private developer.
“The public has had enough of such developer-led rezoning, which has had such a disastrous outcome for the country,” fumed vice-chairman Sean O’Donnell.
“Over the past 30 years our community park has been gradually diminished by the HSE and City Hall, most recently when a new staff car park was permitted at the northern end.
“Yet more of our park’s green area is currently under threat by City Hall for a new road to replace the back entrance to the hospital, which would be required for a signalised junction currently planned to replace the Corrib Park Roundabout.”
In July 2011, the Council revealed it had been approached Dublin-based Merit Healthcare to sell the site. City Manager Joe O’Neill wrote to the four councillors in the Galway City Central electoral area for their opinions on the proposal.
Mr O’Neill promised the proposal would not compromise the use of the playing pitch, nor would it negatively impact on the development of the remaining green area for amenity use.
He said the proceeds from the sale of the land would help the Council to fund the playing pitches at Corrib Park and Westside and to pay for the upgrade of the green area behind Shantalla Community Centre.
Cllr Colette Connolly (Lab) condemned the proposal at the time, saying the real reason for selling off the land was to facilitate a new exit for the hospital.
An allotment site on a section of Shantalla Park is due to open shortly.
The proposal to rezone 1.5 acres of the park to facilitate the new back road at UHG has already been rejected by the Council’s planning strategic policy committee.