Councillors have approved plans for a total revamp of Kildonan Park in Finglas, with designs showing an all-weather sports pitch, a skate park, communal gardens and a children’s playground.
If the project goes ahead, the new incarnation of the park would also feature outdoor table tennis, gym equipment, a bowling green and a half-sized basketball court, says a report issued to Dublin city councillors at their July monthly meeting on Monday.
Landscaping works and tree planting are also included in the planned works, which were approved under the council’s internal planning procedures, used for its own developments, known as Part 8.
“It is a fantastic news story,” says Fianna Fáil Councillor Briege Mac Oscar by phone on Monday.
Kildonan Park is massive, she says. At the moment it contains the Finglas United FC playing pitches but little else in terms of amenities, she says.
Other local councillors welcomed the plans too, but also warned that funding is not yet in place.
“The plans are great. The most important thing is that they get delivered,” says Social Democrats Councillor Mary Callaghan. Locals have been disappointed in the past, she says, when previous plans didn’t come to fruition.
A Brand New Park
On Tuesday, Debbie Oaks was out walking her dog in Kildonan Park. “It would be great if it all goes ahead,” she says.
There aren’t many choices of activities for the children at the moment, she says. They all seem to play soccer, so it will be good to see improved facilities for that and more options for them as well. “The kids are so good around here,” she says.
She hopes there will be enough space left over for people to walk the park still, as well. “It sounds very positive.”
A February council report says the plans for the park include incorporating the Finglas United grounds next to it.
“This will create a bigger park area and allow for a greater number of amenities,” says the report.
Other council-owned lands that were previously the Abigail Centre, a homeless hostel, will also be incorporated into the park and may later be developed for senior citizens’ housing.
The new plans will improve the facilities for football by providing an all-weather pitch while also creating more amenities for other activities in the park, says the report.
“The overriding concept is to provide a quality local community amenity which has the feel and appearance of a park in terms of paths and planting while also increasing the amount of passive and active recreation facilities,” says the report.
“It’ll be great for the area, an all-weather pitch, playground, playpark,” said Fianna Fáil Councillor Keith Connolly, at the meeting of the full council on 4 July.
“The reactions have been broadly positive,” says Mac Oscar by phone. “It’s a massive park and we are going to get proper recreational facilities.”
Thirteen respondents supported the proposals for the park and six were against, it says.
The Kildonan Park and Surrounding Streets Concerned Residents submitted a petition opposing the changes. Some residents asked the council to “leave the park as it is”, says the report.
Some respondents said they didn’t want the all-weather pitch and some said that the park was being privatised for use by the football club and that other park users were not accommodated in the plans.
“No more of the park should be sectioned off from general use,” said one objection.
There was also a concern that the skate park might be used by non-skaters and attract anti-social behaviour, says the report.
On Tuesday, Social Democrats Councillor Mary Callaghan says there are serious ongoing issues around parking, especially when matches are on.
Some people park on a nearby narrow road illegally, which blocks the road and could prevent emergency services from getting where they need to go. “The council needs to consider increasing the amount of parking,” she says.
Elsewhere in the city, neighbourhoods with lovely green spaces have struggled with influxes of cars on sunny days and game days. Solutions touted have included encouraging people to walk, offering better public transport, and making sure amenities are spread across the city better.
Callaghan welcomed the inclusion of a skatepark at the new Kildonan Park. Local councillors will keep campaigning for the council to build a major skate park in Finglas like the Le Fanu Skatepark in Ballyfermot too, she says.
According to the council report, residents also proposed lots of other ideas for the park that didn’t make the cut.
These included a GAA Pitch, a handball squash court, a new car park, a running track, a dance pavilion, a cafe, a dedicated dog park, a volleyball court, toilets, a covered area, a big slide across the park, a BMX pump track within the skate park and a civic arts space.
Callaghan says she hopes that down the line more amenities aimed at girls and older people could be added to the park. “We need to make sure that all demographics are catered for,” she says.
The consultation report says that, “Like all projects, a level of compromise will be needed in order to get the optimum solution to meet the needs of the entire community and wider users of the park.”
“It is the opinion of the Parks Department that this is the most balanced and desirable layout, which can be achieved,” it says.