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Is This the Library's Field of Dreams?

Clare People, Tuesday, 29th January 2008

No consultants have yet been appointed to oversee the development of a three-story, 45,000-sq ft library building and arts centre in the Post Office field, Ennis.

Last November the government gave the go-ahead to Clare County Council to appoint a project design team. Town Engineer, Tom Tiernan, said an extensive consultation process was underway and final approval had yet to be given. "It is a long procedure and there haven't been any appointments yet", he said. "It can be a complicated process. Certainly it's not what it used to be, in terms of appointing a team for a project. There are a lot of procedures to go through".

When the Post Office field was identified in November 2006 as the favoured site for a new library, Ennis Town Council approved a request to apply for funding from the Department of the Environment and An Comhairle Leabharlanna.

However, Mr. Tiernan said, "As far as I am aware, no specific funding has been approved for the project". He added that any development on the field would not cause impact on flooding in the town. "It accommodates flood storage when there are prolonged periods of high rainfall, but it is not critical as a flood plain. It is not critical in terms of flood management for Ennis. Certainly, on the section of the field where the new library is proposed, any development there would not have any impact on flooding".

The proposed state-of-the-art development will incorporate a public library, headquarters, local studies centre, performance arena, community meeting facilities and a range of ancillary exhibition areas for Clare County Library and the Clare Arts Office.

The Post Office field is currently zoned as amenity, so any development would constitute a material contravention to the Ennis and Environs Development Plan and require the council to adopt a variation to that plan. Members of the Ennis arts community have questioned the merit of the project, given that Ennis already has two major arts and cultural venues in Glór and the recently re-developed Cois na hAbhna.

Library and council officials say the need exists for a new library in Ennis and re-development of the existing de Valera Library site is unfeasible.

Head of the Clare Regional Council, Jimmy Allured, opposes the development. "Where will the water go if they do build there?" he asked. "The water is right up the wall. If they block off that corner, the water will flood onto the corner of Parnell Street.

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