Dublin University Central Athletic Club (DUCAC) has expressed its opposition to any construction on College Park but has committed to working towards a solution “where all relevant stakeholders are happy”.
A proposed pavilion structure on the park has caused controversy in College, with clubs saying it will limit their use of the pitches.
DUCAC chair Matthew Simons told members in an email today: “While DUCAC does not wish for there to be any constructions or disturbances brought to college park, we will continue to strive to reach a solution where all relevant stakeholders are happy.”
“There is an amount of information that we still need clarified, and are working with the college to get answered. The college and DUCAC have been in constant communication with each other, and the potentially affected sports clubs”, Simons said.
The proposed project will see a temporary exhibition on the west side of College Park, close to the Ussher library. The Old Library is set to close in 2023 to facilitate urgent renovation works, and an alternative venue is needed to cater to tourists and to recoup some of the profits lost from the closure of the Book of Kells exhibition.
No final decision has been made on the matter. Last week, The University Times reported that both Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) and the Graduate Students’ Union (GSU) would dissent when the proposal came to College Board.
Simons said: “I have been regularly discussing the matter with the relevant college staff and sports clubs since. These consultations are likely to continue for many more weeks.”
“As the body responsible for the sports clubs, DUCAC will always have its students and clubs as its main priority. There has been a large amount of false and inaccurate information released surrounding the proposal, please be assured that any important and relevant information will be communicated by DUCAC to the sports clubs accordingly.”
A petition launched by the GSU opposing the plan has amassed nearly 1,900 signatures. The union’s President Gisèle Scanlon told The University Times this evening that the union intends to present the petition to Dublin City Council as an objection to the development.
This newspaper revealed last week that Dublin City Council, not Trinity, suggested College Park for the location of the temporary exhibition.
Confidential documents presented to College Board members indicated that 19 locations, on and off campus, were considered, with New Square and Library Square being deemed the most suitable.
Regent House, the Douglas Hyde Gallery, the 1937 Reading Room and the Science Gallery were among the campus locations considered. Off-campus locations mooted included the Chester Beatty Library, the National Library and the National Gallery. College Park was not on the list of potential locations.
The documents said that “the Bursar, COO [Chief Operating Officer] and E&F [Estates and Facilities] have engaged with Dublin City Council who have guided that planning permission would be unlikely” for these two locations.
“DCC suggested a third location, which could be feasible from a planning perspective, in College Park.”
If the proposal were to be passed, the size of the playing fields of College Park would be reduced to the extent that some teams would not be able to play home games there due to the playing pitches not being of regulation size. Trinity’s soccer, athletics and cricket clubs would be affected.
The redevelopment of the Old Library is expected to cost in excess of €120 million, €25 million of which the government has agreed to pay.