Local residents have expressed their anger after a meeting with the management of St Mary’s College Dundalk about the school’s proposed new building.
About 40 residents have objected to the plan and those who attended the latest meeting with the school management described it as a “PR stunt”.
In a statement, the residents said they only received superficial information at the two meeting and there was no detailed discussion about their concerns.
They said at the first meeting it appeared as if planning approval was a matter of fact as far as the school was concerned. At the second meeting they expected to meet representatives from the National Treasury Management Agency, but this had not happened.
They said as concerned residents they had submitted many objections, but the flooding issue is probably the most topical. The adjacent Fair Green Road has been closed several times recently because of flooding. The proposed new school building will be built on an elevated site of at least 1.5 metres emphasising the potential for high flood waters.
They said many residents are already using sandbags to protect their homes.
They are also concerned about traffic and cutting down of trees along St Mary’s Road which will affect the architectural heritage of the area. And they are worried about existing buildings being left unsed.
“It was a good opportunity for us to hear first-hand from people living close to the school,” Mr Ó Murchu chairman of the school’s board of management said about the meeting.
“And to try and address any legitimate concerns they (the residents) may have about what is planned.
“Naturally, there was a lot of interest in finding out how the new school building will impact on those who live nearby and we sought to provide both information and reassurance. We remain open to further discussions and engagement.
“In terms of the planning process, our professional team are currently assembling the further information requested by the local authority last month. One of the big opportunities that the new school building project gives us is to address existing issues around access for vehicles to and from the school when pupils are being dropped off or collected. Using separate entrances and exits will help ease congestion at the morning and afternoon peaks.”
Mr Con McGinley, principal St Mary’s College, said he is aware of the limitations of the current buildings. “The only current classrooms that meet best practice in terms of space and layout are in our four prefabricated buildings. The new school building will mean that the boys and girls who attend St Mary’s College will have access to the very best of modern school accommodation. Ours will be one of just 12 new secondary schools in the country to proceed to construction this year and it is testament to the whole school community and the support we have always enjoyed in Dundalk that we have been approved.”