Intro: SLIDE 1
I’d like to welcome you all here today to the launch of our playground renewal project. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Cathal McHugh and I have been spearheading the initiative to redevelop our Community playground. Today is our launch day to inform all of you about this project and to start fundraising for the additional funds we need to complete this project. I will go into the details of the project later but for now we are going to start the day with some talent from children of our local schools. So I’ll now hand over to Elaine McHugh who will introduce our entertainers here today.
Programme of the Day: SLIDE 2
11.30am Doors Open,
12.40pm – 1.00pm Presentation by CMcH.
1.00pm – 2pm Entertainment
Teas / Coffees / Refreshments available throughout the day.
History: SLIDE 3
Thanks to all the children for the wonderful entertainment which I’m sure you enjoyed. There is certainly a lot of talent there and we will see more in a little while from some of the other children (suggest round of applause).
Before we talk about the new playground renewal project I want to look back at the origins of the playground as I’m sure many of you are not aware of it’s history! Back in the early 1970’s the Milltown Development Association (with people like Frank Glynn, Francie Mullarkey, Padraig Flannery, Joe Ryan, & others) had the wonderful foresight to draw up a master plan to develop a community park for the village. The first phase of that plan consisted of 2 Tennis courts, a tarmac carpark, a children’s playground with swings, slide, roundabout and sand dune. The 2nd phase included the river walk, fishing bays, seating and other recreational facilities. At the time the estimated cost for what was planned was £8,000. This was the start of what is now an award winning heritage park in Milltown and the Development Company has continually invested and developed the park since then to include the extensive Riverwalk all the way to Russlestown, the Thatched Cottage and many more developments. It’s safe to say that in the last 50 years there have been hundreds of thousands of euros invested in the park by the development company and with great support from the Community Employment schemes. It is great to see this investment now continuing with the rejuvenation of the playground.
You can see over here on the wall on my right hand side a display of some of the plans, media coverage and correspondence in relation to the development of the park dating back to the early 70s.
I’d like at this point to offer a round of applause to Frank Glynn and his counterparts for their trojan efforts down through the years to make Milltown the village that it is today.
In relation to the playground itself, back in the 1970’s and 1980’s the playground was one of the only playgrounds around and was known far and wide in particular for the slide! I remember spending many days in my youth as I’m sure many of you do particularly in the Summer over at the tennis courts and playground.
Recent Additions: SLIDE 4
In more recent times there have been a number of small additions such as the spinning bowl, 2 springers and a 3 sided seesaw. The swing has been updated and the tyre swings replaced with a flat seat and an infant basket swing.
While these have all added to the playground’s attractiveness, there has been a significant advancement in playgrounds across the country in recent years, from the types of equipment available to the setup of the playgrounds themselves. Considering this, it was felt we needed to rejuvenate our playground to enable it to compete with other local playgrounds and to provide the best and safest playground that we can for the children of Milltown.
New Playground Objectives: SLIDE 5
The new playground proposal has several key objectives
1) Child safety. As we all know the existing playground is located beside the fast-flowing River Clare and its tributary on one side and the busy N17 and adjoining car park on the other side. The best way to reduce the risk to children playing is to enclose the new playground with a new fence and this is the primary objective of our rejuvenation project.
2) Improved Play facilities. As I mentioned already the variety and types of play equipment that are available for playgrounds has vastly improved since the 1970’s. Equipment is now designed to suit various age categories and to help children develop key skills while having fun in a multitude of ways. We are proposing that a selection of equipment be incorporated in this project to cater for this.
3) We want to playground to be inclusive in so far as possible bearing in mind we are limited by space and by budget. With that in mind we will be including at a minimum one piece of equipment that is wheelchair friendly and inclusive for all.
4) Safety Surfacing & Safety Zones. The new playground will have the latest safety surfacing designed specifically for the critical fall height for each piece of equipment. The playground will also be laid out to have adequate safety zones round each piece of equipment to comply with current regulations.
5) Enhanced amenity and Social Inclusion. We are very fortunate thanks to the valiant efforts of The Milltown Development Company and Tidy Towns over the past 40+ years to have a fabulous park at the heart of our village, it is hoped that improving the playground element of the park will enhance the park further and allow the young families of Milltown to play safely locally rather than travelling to neighbouring villages and towns and thus provide an environment where parents, grandparents, childminders and children can meet, socialise and develop relationships which will only enhance a sense of community in our lovely village.
These are the main objectives that drove us on in this project to seek the funding that was required to make this project a reality.
Concept Proposal: SLIDE 6
So what will the playground look like I hear you say and what will be in it. Well the final layout and type of equipment won’t be known until the contractor is appointed. However, these images are indicative of what it may look like as this is what we based our application for funding on. It will have at least one big central mulit-play unit involving climbing / slides etc, there may also be some type of rope climbing structure, there will be at least one piece of equipment suitable for those with disabilities like the wheelchair roundabout shown and then there will be some of the existing pieces reused where possible like the spinning bowl and springers. The playground will be fully fenced off and will include safety surfacing at each piece of equipment. There may be some other small pieces, as I say we won’t know for definite until our tenders come back and we have a contractor appointed.
Funding Process: SLIDE 7
We started this process in 2016 by developing a proposal to present to the Milltown Development Company, Community Council and Tidy Towns Committee who all have a stakeholder interest in this project. To progress this, we needed their support and willingness to facilitate any application for funding. From the outset our proposal was welcomed and supported. For those of you who are not familiar with seeking grants and funding, in general to apply for a grant you must have some funds of your own to apply as any grant will only partially cover these types of projects. So, I would like to thank in particular, Eamon Callaghan, Frank Glynn and Michal Rhatigan of the Milltown Development Company. They agreed to support this project and give us the financial backing that we required to progress with funding applications. With this backing in place, we applied for funding under the town and village renewal scheme in 2016, and under LEADER funding in 2017 both times unsuccessfully. However, as you may know by now in 2018 we applied under Measure 2 of the CLAR funding and were successful in securing €50,000 in funding in July. It is worth stating that this is the maximum grant available in this scheme which covers playgrounds and so any shortfall in funding for the project must be secured through other means. Which takes me nicely on to where you come in!
What can you do! SLIDE 8
As I mentioned already we received the financial backing from the Milltown Development Company to secure the CLAR funding, but the additional money required for this project still has to come from somewhere and this is why we are here today. We need the support of you, your families, parents, brothers, sisters, Grandparents, Aunties, Uncles etc. This is a fantastic project which will be here for years to come for our children and future children to enjoy and make friends.
While we started this process in 2016, which may seem like a long time, I can assure you this is a very short time compared with many other communities who are fundraising for years and years to secure the necessary funding to buy a site and build a playground – many of these towns have run multiple fundraisers targeting the community. What we need now is for people to dig deep to try and secure the additional funds required. We don’t want to have to come back again and again having fundraiser after fundraiser. We are lucky that we have the site and that we have secured the CLAR funding so now we just need that last bit to make it happen. We are aware that families have different incomes and means but we would hope that families could give a donation of between €50 and €100 each. Some may afford more, and some may afford less. We know that there are demands of all sorts when it comes to family life and children, from school, to extracurricular activities like music, sport, dancing, etc but we see this as in investment by you in your community for your children, not just for one term or for one year but to use throughout their childhood.
Today we will have envelopes available at the door for you to put your donation in or you can take them home with you and return them to me or to the post office in Ryans. Please feel free to take an extra envelope or two home with you to give to family or friends who couldn’t be here today and who may wish to contribute to this very worthy cause.
You will also see on the envelope a link to a fundraising webpage we have set up for this project. We will be circulating this on Facebook and by other means, so you can pass on the webpage details to family or friends who maybe in other parts of the country or even abroad and who may wish to contribute online. The page is also mobile friendly so you can donate online via your mobile phone!
What’s next: SLIDE 9
The works package involved in renovating the playground is out to tender and due back very soon. All going well we will be appointing a contactor shortly after and we expect to have works started on the ground this side of Christmas. We anticipate that the works will be complete early next year. In the meantime we need to continue to raise the necessary funds to complete the project through your generous donations!
The big question – that slide!: SLIDE 10
I’m sure many of you are wondering what will happen the existing big slide! As regulations have changed since this slide was first installed, if we were to include this slide inside the new playground enclosure we would not receive the certification that we need to open and insure the new playground which will be subject to weekly inspections.
We all know how popular the slide is both with the bigger kids and some adults too! Keeping this in mind, the current plan is for this to be erected independently after the project is completed in an area adjacent to the new playground.
Thank You: SLIDE 11
Finally, I would just like to thank all the people that helped today to make this happen. Firstly, a huge thank you to Tara Turpen and Elaine McHugh who organised this event, thank you to everyone who contributed all the delicious buns/cakes on display and to all the women in busy in the kitchen serving the teas & coffees. Thanks to Flannerys (Coffee.ie) and Ryans Shop who sponsored the refreshments. Thanks to Padriag Coyne and his crew for setting up the hall. A very special thank you to our very talented young performers who’ve been doing a fantastic job of entertaining us all! And, most of all thanks to you all for turning out to hear about this project and I look forward to your support in making it a reality!
Finally, Finally before I go I’m sure many of you heard the tidy towns results were announced during the week. We must congratulate the Tidy towns Committee who have succeeded in adding a massive 4 points to our score from last year which has given Milltown the honour of being the tidiest town in County Galway for 2018 once again. We must also congratulate Belmont and Milltown National schools as they won a regional award for their “Loving Leftovers” project. In addition, Milltown won a Heritage Food Project award. So can we give a big round of applause to show our appreciation to all involved and to all of you who have contributed in the past year, well done!
If you have any further questions on the project, come up to me after and I’ll be happy to try and answer as best I can.