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Library News and Developments
Ennis Library May Move to Post Office Field Site
Clare Champion, Friday, 10th November 2006
The de Valera Library in Ennis could soon be on the move. At the November monthly meeting of Ennis Town Council, the Council agreed to support the development of a new library for the town. The proposed development of the 25,000 sq. ft. library would be built on a 0.3 acre site at the edge of the Post Office field with frontage along Bank Place.
Revealing the plan at the meeting, Tom Coughlan, Town Manager, insisted that the proposed design of a modern building would be in-keeping with the character of development in the area while also meeting the needs of the local community.
The proposed development would involve the provision of a library, exhibition space, study space and research area and a viewing platform or decking area overlooking the river, Mr. Coughlan told Councillors. He added, "The proposed library development would be constructed and limited to an area of 0.3 acres at the edge of the Post Office field fronting Bank Place. The area of the Post Office field is approximately 4 acres and the zoning of the remaining 3.7 acres would remain unchanged as open space".
The meeting saw members of Ennis Town Council approve the request by Mr. Coughlan to apply for funding for the project from the Department of Environment and An Comhairle Leabharlanna.
Initial discussions with the Council's planner and architect indicate that a suitable building would enhance the streetscape at Bank Place while also preserving the amenity of the adjoining site, Mr. Coughlan told the meeting. "There would be classical features at the front and perhaps something modern overlooking the Post Office field, such as maybe glass, so that people could enjoy the amenity", he said.
Preliminary consultation has taken place with An Comhairle Leabharlanna and the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and, according to Mr Coughlan, initial responses have been positive. "Re-development on the site of the existing de Valera Library is considered problematic having regard to the obvious disruption to services during any reconstruction", explained Mr. Coughlan.
The Post Office field is currently zoned amenity and a variation to the Ennis and Environs Development Plan would need to be adopted before any development on the site. According to Mr. Coughlan, the present library site could be sold to pay for the cost of the development, while the gallery space may be retained. Consideration will also be given to housing the Headquarters of Clare Library Services in the new building, depending on space.
Speaking at the meeting, Mayor of Ennis, Joe Reidy, welcomed the plan saying, "A new modern building will be an important further addition to the civic facilities in the town". Councillor Peter Considine said that any development should be sensitive to the surroundings, but also reflect Ennis' position as a prosperous town. Councillor Johnny Flynn pointed out that the library is currently "phenomenally overcrowded". Councillor Tommy Brennan added, "the present library has served its purpose".
Councillor Donal O'Beara insisted that the de Valera Library be kept as a public space. While Councillor Taiwo Mathew described the plan as a "fantastic project". Councillor Tom Glynn agreed that the current library is overcrowded stating that he fully supported the move. Councillor Mary Coote Ryan described the proposal as "marvellous". Councillor Frankie Neylon asked that if a material contravention is required for the site, can the Council be told what will happen to the rest of the Post Office field. Mr. Coughlan told him that the material contravention would only apply to the 0.3 acres required for the proposal and that the remaining 3.7 acres would remain unchanged as open space.
The proposed library development will go before Clare County Council for consideration and approval of a funding application. If the project is approved by the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the project will proceed to design and planning stage.