City Hall rules out a 50-metre municipal pool for Cork

City Hall rules out a 50-metre municipal pool for Cork
View of the 50 metre pool at University of Limerick. The only Olympic-sized pool in Munster. Pic: Alan Ward Permission to use.

HOPES for 50-metre municipal pool in Cork have been dashed by City Hall which says operating costs would be in excess of €1m a year.

The only 50-metre pool in Munster is based at the University of Limerick (UL) sports campus - more than 90 minutes drive from Cork city centre. 

The only other such facility in Ireland is in Dublin.

Councillor John Buttimer (FG) asked local authority officials to initiate plans for the development of an Olympic standard pool but capital and running costs are major stumbling blocks for such a project, City Council has said.

Director of City Hall’s environment and recreation department Valerie O’Sullivan also said existing Cork City-owned pool facilities at Bishopstown, Churchfield and Douglas could be negatively affected.

“The capital cost of a 50-metre pool is considerable, the National Aquatic Centre at Blanchardstown costing €63m. In addition to pool provision, other facilities such as gyms, aqua pools, fitness suites etc would be required to maximise income and help offset the very large annual operating costs.

“There is no obvious funding mechanism for the provision of a 50m pool in Cork, the Large Scale Sports Infrastructure Fund being €100m national over years 2019 to 2027, with match funding of at least 30% being required for all projects.

“Ongoing annual operating costs could require an annual subsidy of over €1m.

“In addition, the pool would result in a displacement of current income generated from hire business (schools and clubs) swimming lessons and gym use for existing Cork City Council leisure facilities. The UL facility has up to 50 schools using the complex," Ms O'Sullivan added.

However, Sandycove Swimmers club member and 50m pool campaigner Niall Kenny told The Echo he believes the Council’s figures are outdated and such a facility would pay for itself with north, east and west Cork areas utilising it along with an increased city population of 220,000 following the city boundary extension on June 1.

“City Hall's data is 14 years out of date. A 50m pool in Cork could easily accommodate 50 schools from east, west and north Cork without interfering with existing facilities," said Mr Kenny.

“I think City Council just wants to put this on the long finger. There is plenty of opportunity to generate revenue. If it's planned properly, it doesn’t necessarily have to cost City Council much.

“I understand they don’t have the capital costs to build the structure but there is national funding available.

“UCC is currently building sports facilities in Bishopstown and they could consider adding a 50m pool to that existing sporting set up. The Mardyke is already full to capacity.

“There are three other smaller city councils than Cork in the UK building 50m pools at the moment with populations less or equal to Cork,” he added.

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