Fine Gael Cllr. John Kennedy has submitted a motion to the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Dundrum area committee calling for prioritisation of a new 8x400m athletics track to effectively replace the old facility which was located in Belfield. The motion was to be voted upon on 6th November.
The Belfield Athletics track was shut down and subsequently dug up on 22nd November 2011, with 21 hours notice given to UCD Athletics Club. The area where the former athletics track was located is now a pay-per-use car park.
Then-Vice-President for Students, Martin Butler, said at the time that “the UCD running track has reached the end of its operational life and unfortunately has had to be closed due to health and safety concerns.”
“Our advisors have reported that as the surface is badly worn and becomes slippery when wet, it should be closed to all users. Works to redress this situation have already commenced and we hope to be able to provide an alternative facility on campus in the future, subject to funding becoming available.”
As previously reported by the University Observer, UCD Director of Sport Brian Mullins has stated that, due to financial limits, the building of an athletics track in UCD is unlikely to happen in the future. The development of a new track was quoted at a cost of €1.6 million at the time. The original track was built at a cost of IR£175,000, and opened on June 14th 1977.
Cllr. Kennedy has stated that “it remains hugely disappointing that the Belfield athletics facility has never been restored or effectively replaced. The track, which was opened by the late Liam Cosgrave as Taoiseach, served numerous Olympians and the wider community for many years and it is regrettable to think that a better outlet for athletics in the community existed 40 years ago as compared to now.”
“The motion I submitted to be discussed on November 6th indicates that a new 400 metre by 8 lanes facility should be constructed in the Stillorgan, Dundrum or Glencullen-Sandyford electoral wards. This would serve UCD Athletics as well as local clubs such as Dundrum South Dublin. During a recent Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council meeting, I supported the inclusion of such a new athletics facility in the council’s Sports Facilities Strategy recently outlined to councillors.
Cllr Kennedy further stated that the purpose of the motion would be for all stakeholders to pursue a collective goal in identifying both public and private sources of funding for the track, as well as “suitable geographic locations.”
He concluded: “The Belfield track was a much appreciated facility and its absence remains hard felt within the community. There has been some previous discussion regarding its replacement but the wait to see this happen has been too prolonged. Plans for a new facility really need to be very actively initiated at this point – Enough is Enough.”