by Gareth Cross
Derry City and Strabane District Council has said that the costs to re-open the Brooke Park 3G pitch ‘could exceed £30,000’.
The pitch was closed recently following health and safety concerns surrounding balls hitting nearby houses.
A house adjacent to the pitch suffered repeated hurt to their roof as a result of balls from the facility.
A council officer told a meeting of the council’s Health and Community Committee in Strabane on Thursday that a ‘recent inspection of the roof by a qualified company has indicated that the roof tiles contain asbestos and in terms of the duty of care to both the resident and maintenance/contractor teams this risk needs to be managed with the utmost due diligence’.
The council will now seek to identify somebody to carry out the work of installing protective netting at the pitch, following a procurement process.
Responding, Sinn Fein councillor Eric McGinley said he ‘wanted to express his disappointment’ that the issue was not dealt with at the design stage of the 3G pitch.
Cllr McGinley said ‘people predicted this was an accident waiting to happen so close to residential properties’.
He said council needed to ‘learn a lesson in relation to the design of pitches in built up areas’.
Independent councillor Darren O’Reilly said he had been trying to deal with the issue but now the asbestos had taken it ‘out of our control’.
He questioned if there was any small-term solution and said he was glad the net would finally be installed.
A council officer told Cllr O’Reilly that council was aware a number of younger age groups use the pitch and would come back with more detail on small-term solutions.
Cllr O’Reilly said he want to ‘try and get the pitch open immediately’.
SDLP councillor Shauna Cusack said he had been ‘bombarded by the public’ on the issue.
She requested that council make more effort to keep councillors updated on issues surrounding the pitch as there had been communication issues when the pitch was first closed.
Cllr Cusack said it was vital that council and councillors were all ‘signing from the same hymn sheet’.
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