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A Dublin City Council-appointed team of architects continue to work up plans for the Dalymount Park redevelopment project, but a proposal for a new public library has been dropped from the scheme.
The council had previously said a library would be included, alongside a community facility on the plaza outside the soon-to-be rebuilt Bohemians FC stadium in Phibsboro.
The community facility is set to consist of meeting rooms and a space for events on non-match days. This is still in the designs, said a council spokesperson on Friday.
But the library isn’t.
Instead, the spokesperson said, the council is looking at extending the existing local library, although that idea is still in the earliest stages of being drawn up.
Locals have been hearing about the redevelopment of the Bohemians FC stadium for years, says Anne Bedos, owner of the bike shop Rothar, around the corner from Dalymount Park on the Phibsboro Road.
“We’ve been trading for 16 years, and we’ve been waiting since then,” she said.
The project has seen delays and changed shape several times since Dublin City Council bought the grounds in June 2015 for €3.8 million.
At first, the plan was to turn Dalymount Park from a 4,200-seater venue into a 10,000 seater, according to the council’s 2017–2019 capital programme.
Bohemians were to share the expanded grounds with rivals Shelbourne FC. The council bought the latter’s home venue, Tolka Park, in 2016. But in February 2022, Shelbourne pulled out after submitting a proposal to buy back their home turf in Drumcondra.
In 2018, the council said it had decided a rebuilt Dalymount Park fitting 6,000 would be better.
At that point, the plans included a library. The cost was estimated at €29 million, according to the council’s capital programme for 2019 to 2021.
Then, on 3 November 2022, Dublin City Council said it had chosen a design for the development drawn up by architecture firms Idom and Gilroy-McMahon.
These most recent plans showed how the existing stadium was to be fully demolished, and replaced by four stands fitting 7,880, 2,000 of which were now terraced.
The council at that stage put the estimated cost at €40 million.
The council said an adjacent public plaza was a feature. But absent was any reference to the planned library.
Preferring the Old Place
At the end of last year, the council’s library service and the Dalymount Redevelopment Project Team were discussing where to put the neighbourhood’s library, according to meeting minutes released under the Freedom of Information Act to community activist Feljin Jose.
The library service were considering whether a space would be provided for them in the new community facility, show the minutes for a meeting last August.
On 25 October, at the next meeting of the team, the minutes state that a decision was reached to proceed with an option which included the provision for a 1,000sqm library.
On 30 November, the idea of the library was being reconsidered, show minutes for another meeting.
The redevelopment team says it had agreed during a meeting with the library services to look at developing the existing library, which sits beside the Blacquiere Bridge on the North Circular Road, the minutes say.
It was also noted that the design team would carry on with plans to include the library within the stadium’s footprint, the minutes show.
Built in 1934, the existing Phibsboro library is a protected structure. It does need refurbishment and an extension, the meeting’s minutes show. But, say the minutes: “Library Services would prefer to stay here.”
The design team was expected to meet with library services and discuss their requirements, the council’s minutes say, with the forthcoming options to be presented at a future meeting.
The project team decided not to move the library into Dalymount.
A spokesperson for the council said, of the decision to keep the library where it is: “Phibsboro Library has a strong presence in the community and the building is well loved.”
Extending the old library and the Dalymount Park redevelopment would be separate projects, the spokesperson said.
There are still 500sqm for community facilities in the preliminary design for the stadium’s redevelopment, the press spokesperson said.
New Vs Old
Not everyone is on board with the plan to keep and extend the old library.
Having a new library located together with a community facility on the planned plaza could be of immense benefit to Phibsboro, says Fine Gael Councillor Colm O’Rourke.
“It would have been great to have a modern library facility,” he said.
The current 1934 library is a single-room space, says Bedos, of local bike shop Rothar. “As great as it is, it is tiny.”
Says O’Rourke: “There’s not a lot you can do with that building.”
Bedos points to the LexIcon Library and Cultural Centre in Dún Laoghaire. “It has workshops and schools,” she says. “It is a hub of activity, and we don’t have that, because our library is so small.”
Phibsboro is sorely lacking in spaces for community groups to convene, says O’Rourke.
If the 1934 library was put to another use, it could help to rectify that problem, he says. “I’d discussed it with residents in the area over the past years.”
Labour Senator Marie Sherlock says the news of a potential extension is welcome. “That it’s being retained for, what is the most public of uses, a library is fantastic,” she said.
But expanding the 1934 library poses a problem, Jose says, in that this may mean it has to be closed for a while.
“I’m concerned that when they go to refurbish and extend it, it will likely be kicked down the road for being too expensive, or because it’s a very limited site,” he says.
“While I love the current library and still fondly remember getting my first library card there, I think the area has outgrown the building,” he says. “It should be preserved and put to other community uses.”
While the completion of construction on the Dalymount Park project is scheduled for March 2026, Jose says, the decision to drop the idea of the library has thrown up uncertainties.
“We were told last year that Dublin City Council were applying for planning permission early this year. Now we’re talking about removing the library from the project,” Jose said.
“Why was no one informed about all this?” he said.
With the refurbishment of the existing library not inside the scope of the current project, Jose says, it is highly unlikely any extensions or refurbishments could be completed within the same timeframe as the stadium.
“We’re looking at starting a new project from scratch,” he said.
Dalymount Park…Iveagh Market…Fruit Market…Library Parnell Square….Can D.C.C. deliver anything for our poor city.
There was no need for a FoI request to get information related to the Dalymount project. The Dalymount Redevelopment Steering Group has both community representation and councillor representation.
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