'Play Strategy' could spell the end for McCreesh Park

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

THE future of the controversial Raymond McCreesh Park is in doubt following Newry, Mourne and Down Council's (NMDC) proposal to consolidate it with Barcroft Community Centre play park, writes Ralph Hewitt.

In the council's 'Play Strategy', which will involve the development of new play parks and the upgrading of existing facilities across the entire council area at a cost of 2.5 million over five years, it states that the possible amalgamation of the two Newry play parks will be subject to public consultation before any decision is made.

Both Mayobridge and Magennis Villas have been earmarked to receive funding of 100,000 to proceed with the development of a play area, while sites in Newry, Slieve Gullion and Crotlieve are all to go to public consultation in order to decide if these play parks are in need of an upgrade.

Eight Newry play parks could be transformed into four as the possible consolidation of Raymond McCreesh Park and Barcroft Community Centre play park, Windmill Road and Heather Park play parks, Emmett Street and Mourneview play parks, and Springhill Drive and Shandon Park play parks are all up for public consultation, which could even see them relocated.

Spelga Park and Hilltown play park and Charlemont Square, Pond Field, Fr Cullen and College Square play parks in Slieve Gullion have also all been marked for consolidation.

However, it was made clear in the report that the proposed use of the Albert Basin site lies outside "the scope and remit" of the strategy.

A spokesperson for NMDC stated that any possible consolidation has not yet been approved.

"Newry, Mourne and Down District Council's Play Strategy, whilst considered by committee, is still at draft stage and has not yet been approved by council," said the spokesperson.

“The Draft Play Strategy identifies that further local consultation will be required to ensure the views of the local communities are taken into account for recommendations to existing or new parks and their locations."

Commenting on the possible consolidation of Raymond McCreesh Park, independent Unionist councillor Henry Reilly believes that there is no intent to use the strategy as an excuse to scrap the name.

“I don't think they're trying to facilitate anybody by trying to get the McCreesh name removed but certainly if it did happen it would solve a lot of problems for everybody," he said.

No one from Sinn Fein was available for comment at the time of going to print.


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