Southside Council Briefs: The Future of a Community Centre, a New Crossing to Get to New Park, and More

Community Space, Wanted

It is unlikely that Donore Avenue Youth and Community Centre, destroyed by a fire last June will be fixed up and usable again before 2024, said Máire Devine, a Sinn Féin councillor, last week.

The council said in December it intends to put out a tender to repair the building of Donore Avenue Youth and Community Centre, which was destroyed by a fire last June. So it might happen faster than that.

After the fire at the centre on Donore Avenue in the Liberties, community groups had said they were hopeful it would open again within six months.

At Wednesday’s meeting of the council’s South Central Area Committee, Devine asked if the council’s property department could find an alternative temporary space for groups that haven’t yet found somewhere new for their activities.

She suggested a space in the Barley House, on the junction of Cork Street and Marrowbone Lane.

That wouldn’t be possible, said Derek Kelly, director of council services on the south side, as planning permission was granted in September for change of use of the building to a restaurant.

Devine said the council has failed for years to keep up with demand for community spaces. “This really has to be done with urgency and I don’t see any urgency with it.”

Kelly said he gets many requests each week from groups looking for council spaces. “We just don’t have them,” he said, and it would be expensive for the council to lease from a private owner.

“It’s not a simple thing to do to get units at a cost that’s cost-effective,” he said, and the Donore Avenue Youth and Community Centre could be ready by the time they found somewhere to lease.

Kevin’s Hurling and Camogie Club, Sophia Housing and a local church have offered spaces to some groups that used the Donore centre, said Tony Smithers, the council’s housing manager for its South Central Area.

“Not been ideal, but the continuation of some of those groups is happening in other spaces,” he said.

Waiting until 2024 would be too long to leave the community without a space, said Devine. “To protect communities and to protect the groups that have been using it. From, you know, seniors, to youngsters, to the drug and alcohol taskforce.”

Kelly said he would ask the council’s property section if they had anything. “I kinda know they don’t. If there was, they probably would have done something by now.”

Said Devine: “I don’t want ideal, I don’t want perfect. I just want places for people to meet up and socialise and get to know each other.”

Crossing to a New Bridgefoot Street Park

The council plans to officially open Bridgefoot Street Park on 4 May, said a council report at Wednesday’s meeting of the South Central Area Committee.

It has been a long wait. After a community campaign, councillors voted to press ahead with the park in late 2017.

The new park has play areas, a community garden, a café, green spaces and planting, the council report says.

Councillors have also been thinking, they said, about how visitors will get safely across the wide lanes and centre planter aisle of Bridgefoot Street to reach all that. The street was widened in the 1970s for a city-centre motorway that was never finished.

Michael Pidgeon, a Green Party councillor, said it’s difficult for people to cross the planting that was done along the centre of the street.

“I think there’s also some pedestrian improvements there. I’m just keen to make sure that people can easily access the park,” he said. “Some of that planting is brilliant, but hasn’t helped on that front.”

Máire Devine, a Sinn Féin councillor, said residents in the Oliver Bond flat complex are concerned about kids racing across the middle of the street to get to the park. “There’s been near misses with kids trying to get to the other side of the street.”

There’s just one pedestrian crossing at the top of the road near Thomas Street. Most people jaywalk across the middle part, she says. “The traffic is just a nightmare obviously.”

Devine said there should be a crossing somewhere around the Bridgefoot Street entrance to Oliver Bond. “We can make a couple of areas that are safe for children so they know where to go to cross, as opposed to taking pot luck.”

Pidgeon also asked for updates on the plans for a walking and cycling scheme looping across the River Liffey to link up Queen Street and Bridgefoot Street, a vision for which was shown to the South Central Area Committee in March 2021.

Derek Kelly, director of council services on the south side, said he would ask the council’s new active travel unit to hold a session with councillors about all the projects they are planning in the South Central Area.

“They’re recently just trying to get a steer on timelines for the various works that they’re planning on throughout the whole city,” he said.

As far as he knows, a pedestrian crossing will be included as part of the walking and cycling scheme, he said.

Clearing Bin Bags

The council is trialling an initiative to clear bin bags from the streets, said Richard Whelan, an administrative officer for the council’s waste-management services at the South Central Area Committee meeting last Wednesday.

Residents and businesses in many areas leave their rubbish in bin bags on the street, he said, but those can be ugly and get ripped up by animals who spread the litter around. “And can also obstruct people on the footpath when trying to get past.”

The BagBins pilot involves a container on the street that rests folded flat most of the time. When it’s used, it can be unfolded to create a temporary bin that residents and businesses can toss their rubbish into.

It’s being tested under the aegis of Dublin City Council BETA, which trials innovative projects to address city challenges, said Whelan, who was responding to a question from Máire Devine, a Sinn Féin councillor,.

Seven locations are getting BagBins to test, he said. There are two on Drury Street, and one each on South Anne Street and Capel Street. There are also three close together on Reginald Street and Gray Street.

“We’d like to learn more about whether this solution is a good one for the specific users, the general public, and also for the streetscape,” he said.

The council will be chatting to locals, observing their use of the bins, and asking people to give feedback online, he said.

The trial will end in early May and results published online, said Whelan.

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