Kildare Co Council’s parks department is ‘completely overwhelmed’, a local councilor said.
These are the words of Cllr Bill Clear, who tabled a motion at the February Plenary meeting noting the increase in population in Kildare, the corresponding increase in demand on public amenities such as parks, sports grounds games and open spaces, and asking how the council plans to meet the “necessary” demands for these social infrastructure needs.
Due to Kildare’s population growth over the past 10 years, a report noted that they have seen a substantial increase in demand for public amenities. In 2012, the Parks department managed 12 playgrounds with a staff of two people. In recent years, the department’s mandate has expanded to cover amenities such as skate parks, outdoor gyms, climate sustainability actions, SHD planning (a full-time Executive Superintendent of Parks) and the tree maintenance.
Within the current infrastructure, the team operates 30 playgrounds, 11 outdoor gymnasiums and three skate parks “with a staff of 9.5”.
The report explains that the current capital program outlines more than 50 projects to meet the need for additional social infrastructure such as parks, playgrounds and open spaces. The workforce complement is currently being reviewed to ensure that it is able to provide day-to-day maintenance as well as the development of capital projects.
Cllr Clear said the parks department was simply too small, adding that it needed more staff.
Cllr Fintan Brett was of the opinion that they need dedicated staff for each MD to complete projects.
Acting Director of Services Marian Higgins told the meeting that the department’s remit had increased and said she was actively reviewing the headcount with a view to increasing it.