New seafront library makes no one happy

by Gazette Reporter

RESIDENTS and politicians have expressed their anger and disappointment over the scale, position and cost of the new €36.6m, 125ft-high Dun Laoghaire library.
Opposition to the building is shared – even amongst councillors who voted for the development in the first place.
At a meeting held on April 29 in the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire, around 200 residents expressed their opposition to the building’s cost, size and modern design and called for the whole development to be demolished.
Peter Kerrigan, owner of Celtic Invoice Discounting, who attended the meeting, said: “The councillors who voted for the library didn’t turn up.
“A big question is, do these councillors represent the people? The management of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Ratepayers Association is now putting four candidates forward for the local election. This decision was made on the back of how the council has ruined the town of Dun Laoghaire.”
“We want a regeneration of the town, and to ensure nothing like this happens again. We want to put life back into the town. We’re all business people, and not politicians. We want to highlight democracy, and question if the planning [for the library] was legal at all.”
Cllr John Bailey (FG), who voted for the project, said: “When we were shown the original drawings, it was indicated to us that it would be a three- or four-storey building, and when we saw the drawings we never envisaged it would be as high as the existing building is now. I think it’s far too high.”
He went on to say: “It’s a monstrosity now, and obscures the whole sea view and takes away from the visual character of the whole area. When we saw the original drawing, it looked totally different.
“It’s far too high, and I’m now calling for two or three storeys to be taken off it.”
Cllr Melisa Halpin (PBP) said: “All across the constituency, people are talking about the €36m that has been spent on the new library and cultural centre.
“People are angry at the utterly inappropriate size of this building on the seafront. They are angry that so much money has been spent on one project, when it could have been shared out over a number of projects.”
Some of the facilities the new central library and cultural centre will provide include an auditorium with retractable seating for 100 people, four specialist libraries, a main lending library, 100 parking spaces and other features.
It is expected that the library will be open to the public in September.
Michael Merrigan, Independent local election candidate for Dun Laoghaire, said: “The library spend was excessive and the location [of it] was a diabolical choice. They could have put it somewhere else, not on the seascape. People are hugely angered.”
A spokesperson for the council said: “The central library and cultural centre in Dun Laoghaire is by far the most significant piece of public infrastructure [to be added] in Dun Laoghaire for more than 100 years.
“Its construction will provide a major contribution to the regeneration of the town and to the county, and marks a significant milestone in the re-integration of the seafront with the main street of Dun Laoghaire.”
In response to the facility’s planning process, the council said: “This council is fully compliant with the planning process, which is set out in Part 8 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, as amended.
“The planning process [included the] plans referred to at the Dun Laoghaire Area Committee meeting on May 25, 2009 for the councillors’ information; [the plans being] put on public display in the council offices in Dun Laoghaire and Dundrum from August 10, 2009 to September 21, 2009.
“The public had a further two weeks to make a submission. Some 33 submissions were received. These submissions were considered and summarised and a comprehensive manager’s report was prepared for the council meeting on November 9, 2009.
“At this council meeting, the councillors approved the proposed development.”

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