The long awaited Dundalk municipal athletics track is on the way
Louth County Council have confirmed that they will construct a brand new municipal athletics track at Muirhevnamor Park - and hope to have it open to the public by 2020.
The new facility – which will be available to members of the public and local athletic teams once completed – will be owned and run by the local authority.
However, news that the decision has been made to locate the new athletics track in Muirhevnamor Park has proved a hammer blow to long held ambitions to build a cycling velodrome. Those plans are dead in the water, for now at least.
“This is a good news story,” Senior Engineer John Lawrence told the Dundalk Municipal District meeting last week. “The track will be available for full use of the public and athletic clubs in the town and also schools.
Lawrence said that design will be completed over the next few months and the grass track will include associated sporting facilities, such as a long jump runway and pit.
Funding of €92,500 has been secured towards the installation of the track with match funding also going towards the total spend in phase one.
The track will be located at the south west end of Muirhavnamor Park, at the Hoey’s Lane side. Speaking at the meeting, the engineer said, “This is the right location within the park and indeed Dundalk for this.”
In response to a question about the velodrome, Lawrence said, “There are no immediate plans for a velodrome.”
Asked whether the athletic track and velodrome was an ‘either or’ situation, he said, “Yes, we didn’t receive backing or funding for a velodrome.
“This is phase one. All other phases will be subject to funding which are absolutely not available at this time. The work now is to put in the track and secure it in some way.
“Any future developments beyond a provision of a grass athletic track, which are not buildings, they would then form part of a Part 8 process sometime in the future.”
The athletic track will be built on the area originally earmarked for the velodrome in preliminary plans. While Green Party councillor Mark Dearey aired his delight at the news, he did suggest consideration was given into revisiting the velodrome in the future.
“It would be a real hames if we inadvertently made it impossible to realise that dream in the future,” he said.
Peter Savage also said he supported the velodrome idea going forward. “For a town the size of Dundalk, there should be a track [but] I think the velodrome is a realistic goal.”
The Fianna Fail councillor expressed his unhappiness that the track will be grass, rather than a tartan all-weather synthetic track. “I’m not enthusiastic about it at all. It raises concerns about injury due to a lack of maintenance. We should set our sights on a tartan track.”
Lawrence said that while the hope is that the first athletes can use the track within two years, the entire project could take five to six years to complete.
“The athletic clubs fully support this and are delighted to get to this stage. Tartan tracks cost €100,000s compared to the budget we have currently available.
“This is only the start of putting in place a regional municipal facility that can host regional, national or international events,” he added.
Last December, the Dundalk Athletics Association – comprising of St Peter’s AC, Mountpleasant AC, Blackrock AC, St Gerard’s AC, Dun Dealgan AC and North-East Runners – receiving capital funding for a new athletic track, having applied in conjunction with DkIT Sport and Louth County Council.
Originally, a nine-acre site between DkIT Sport and the Finnabair Industrial Estate on the Coes Road was earmarked for the development.