Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Ballymore Eustace Community Dev. Assoc. A.G.M.

A more miserable, windy night you couldn’t have planned for – gale force winds, biting cold and that was the night of our AGM. No surprise then that about 25 people in total turned out for the meeting – the same concerned residents, many of them former members of the committee and sub committees. On the positive side, there were at least three new faces amongst the attendance – but sadly, we missed the late Dr Malachy Dignan who loyally attended the A.G.M. for many years. But an attendance of 25 people is pathetic, totally disheartening for members of the CDA. During the course of the AGM, Steve asked that people who would be willing to help out now and again with any of the sub-committees might give their mobile number to the committee and they could then be informed of say, a Tidy Towns clean-up or planting night – you wouldn’t have to become a full committee member but might make yourself available for occasional help?

Steve Deegan presided as chairman in the absence of Jimmy Pearse who has retired from the committee and unfortunately, Steve himself is resigning as and from the January meeting. As always, Steve had prepared an excellent presentation for us with photographic coverage of local events displayed via an overhead projector.

Twelve meetings were held in 2006 with some members involved in or more of the sub committees. Steve stressed the urgent need of new members and how badly the sub committees needed more help.

The Community Playschool rep keeps the committee informed of all their events and the playschool continues to provide an essential service to the village.

The Resource Centre was painted and new speakers installed in 2006. Hall workers, Monica and Nicola were praised for their commitment and flexibility.

Weekly Bingo continues to flourish with this being a main source of income to the running costs of the hall. Praise was given to Gus Kavanagh, Seamus Hayden and to all the women who run the event weekly.

The Annual Punchestown Festival Week was addressed by committee pro, Rose.
“With Jimmy Pearse having stepped down as festival chairman, we have lost half our workforce – his imput was incredible and we will need four men to replace him.
Patricia, Kay and possibly Julie Ann are stepping down so that leaves only Margaret McDonald and myself. Basically, if volunteers or representatives from the local vintners and restaurants don’t come forward next Spring, there won’t be a festival.”

I did point out that parents of young children should get involved and help out during festival week; vintners may make a profit during raceweek but undoubtably, its children who are the real winners with nightly treats and open air entertainment free of charge. The ‘glory years’ for pubs is over, what with drink-driving laws, the smoking ban and competition from late bars in Naas. So Readers, if you want a festival this year – you will have to come on board and ‘gizza hand’.

Finances are healthy enough although only 3 pubs last year made a financial contribution to the festival. The Festival Queen was the main fundraiser – practically every prize and gift presented to the girls on the night were donated by businesses in Blessington, Ballymore Eustace and Naas. From this event, we donated €1,000 each to Angel Eyes Foundation; Renovation Fund for the Church of the Immaculate Conception and the Carman Fair. About €1,500 remains in the festival account.

The Ballymore Bugle prints 650-700 copies per month with consistently high sales.
As co-editors, I thanked all our advertisers, our contributors, those who helped to fold the Bugle every month and to the public for buying it whilst Tim gave a brief on the healthy financial state of our monthly magazine and thanked Frances Clare, our printer for her help and co-operation. (Annual Expenditure is just under €12,00 with revenue raised in excess of €13,300. €500 was donated to the Carman Fair; €500 to be set aside for the Michael Ward Short Story Competition and donations given to other local fundraising events, The People of the Year Awards etc). Christy Dennison was mentioned for special praise and Dick Jeffers whose book “Harvest of Memories” was launching the following week.

The Friendship Club on Tuesdays has a steady number of members who enjoy card playing, art and exercises classes. Fiona Breslin applied for a grant last year for Social Inclusion and this covered the cost of flower arranging, art and exercise classes with local trainers being used for all demonstrations. It is positive to know that only do our senior citizens enjoy Tuesday meetings but skilled local trainers also benefited.

Meals on Wheels volunteers deliver 10-12 meals per day, 3 days per week. Steve praised all involved for their commitment and continued service.

Tidy Towns - Eric Firth gave a comprehensive update; married to local girl, Mary Edgeworth, Eric was a very busy chairman during the past year but sadly has stepped down as he finds the lack of interest (from local residents and businesses, Kildare County Council with the exception of Mary Foley in the grants dept, local county councillors etc) disheartening to say the least.

Tree planting continues to be a top priority of the committee with flower beds added to various spots around the village. The committee had 2 sessions with children from Scoil Mhuire in the fight against litter and Eric praised the youngsters for their enthusiasm and added it was great to see them become environmentally aware at such an early age. Our local school was awarded a Green Flag as a litter free zone. The Brownies too helped with litter management so well done, young people of Ballymore!

Eric was high in his praise of the FAS workers, adding it was great to have Martin Deegan’s advice and local knowledge on the suitability of which species of tree/shrub to plant.

Eric spoke about the committee’s five year plan and their disappointment at only gaining 1 point in the national tidy town awards. Eric cited the following as areas in which Ballymore lost valuable points:
Litter; derelict unsightly buildings; rough surfaced roads and overhead wires; vandalism and grafitti.

Future priorities of the committee will be: tackling eyesores; litter management; to get the local authority more involved; more wild flowere gardens; information boards on local fauna, wildlife, birds and fish – preferably vandal free…. Eric remarked what a beautiful village we have and that his resignation “presents a great motivation opportunity to someone to apply leadership skills” and fill the breach……. Don’t all shout together… Thankfully Eric will continue to be active on the committee – he praised his fellow committee members – Maeve Cummins, Mary Firth and Ann Langan , the Fas workers and complimented Jimmy Pearse for the mammoth workload he carried during his involvement.
Again, Eric pointed out that if volunteers don’t come forward to help with the Tidy Towns, then the sub-committee is in danger of disbanding.

CDA Projects
Next we addressed the following projects which the current committee hope to spearhead over the coming year: The replacement of a community facility on the site of the old library; Street signage and naming;
Atrocious state of the local roads; Local Area Plan etc.

The Library – Fiona Breslin has taken this project to heart and gave a brief history on the project;
“About 10 years ago, the old library closed and fell into dilapidation; in 2005, the CDA pressed Kildare County Council to give ownership of said site and a 21year lease @ €50 per annum was agreed.
KTK kindly disposed of the asbestos and waste thereof, free of charge – much appreciated by the committee. Suggestions were then requested from residents of Ballymore Eustace via the bugle as to what the community felt should replace the library and the following suggestions were made:

1 An office area to incorporate a working parish office, archive storage for the Bugle, Tourist Information Office (infopoint and literature), community notice board and electronic community diary (so the days of local events clashing will be gone forever!)

2 Storage area for the Tidy Towns Committee

Des Kennedy Jnr kindly offered his services as project architect free of charge – thanks Des, much appreciated! We agreed a provisional design to start with (small model on display on the night) but we would like consultation with the local community before applying for planning permission. I know we might be putting “the cart before the horse” here as we then have to apply for the grant raised from KTK community levies – but we are still optimistically going ahead for 2007!”
We hope to have a model on display at The People of The Year Awards

Street Naming and Road Signage. Fiona again is taking charge of this project; simple signage in English and Irish with border trim was chosen in green and white; street corners, local estates and areas to mount the signs will be chosen with permission sought. The work will be tendered locally with possibly up to 45 signs required. Gus Kavanagh suggested that Green and gold might be more appropriate (Ballymore Eustace GAA colours) so samples will be requested in this colouring scheme too to see if they are suitable.

Secretary’s Report. Kay read the minutes from the 2005 AGM and then the Secretary’s Report in which she covered all of the above sub committees and other issues raised in 2005.
One of the issues raised before was the appalling state of our roads with a referral to the deputation organised by Jimmy Pearse and Eric Firth to meet with Willie Purcell, Roads Department, KCC but, despite having submitted a comprehensive report on the dreadful condition of our roads with an appointment confirmed, Mr Purcell failed to show.

At this stage, local resident, Kay Kavanagh reported having had 2 burst tyres at the Naas Rd/Dowdenstown Junction and when she phoned Willie Purcell in KCC to complain, she was informed the council is not responsible… So who is??? (Coincidentally, the Council put a traffic cone on the spot which was duly flattened and posed an ever greater hazard until its removal).
Tim H Ryan added it was obligatory for KCC to put up signs on temporary surfaces and Maurice Mason urged the committee to raise the issue again with Willie Purcell. Kay then paid tribute to Jimmy Pearse for the huge workload he carried on the various sub committees.

Treasurer’s Report was was presented by Margaret McDonald and what a comprehensive report it was!
Margaret thanked all the sub committees who filed their accounts on time (and made her life easier) and then wished a speedy recovery to Ann Langan.

Drugs Awareness Night. Steve praised the quality of the presentation of gardai for our drugs awareness talk but noted how disappointing it was how few parents turned out on the night.

Officers elected. The nomination and election of officers followed with Jimmy Pearse and Steve Deegan resigning. Rose stepped down and was duly re-elected with Margaret, Kay, Trish and Fiona staying on. Mary Deegan was then nominated and elected – a new face on the committee – halleluia!!

Regarding sub committees, John White volunteered to help with the Tidy Towns whilst Percy Donnelly, John Hubbard and Ian Coonan agreed to revive the lapsed Community Alert Programme.

The Hall Committee. Dora O’Brien aked that the policy, health and safety rules for usage of the hall need to be documented and Tim H Ryan offered to do a health and safety statement.
Fiona asked if the hall was available for private hire such as kiddies birthday party – would insurance cover that but Tim urged that it was imperative to have a hall policy in place first.

Local Area Plan was addressed next; the CDA’s submission was entered on December 8th with over 40 other submissions received. Steve urged locals to get involved at the next stage when the draft plan goes on display. There was general consensus that perhaps interested residents – amongst them concerned residents who have met over the past few months to address recent planning applications, the CDA and members of the ABCD - should meet and form a united front or a joint committee representing all views.
To this end, it was agreed that the CDA would meet for a brief planning discussion with said interested parties on January 11th, 2007 and address a future forum for planning in Ballymore Eustace.

Other issues raised on the night were the confusing matter of how the KTK community levies were to be allocated and distributed. (Details as per last month’s Bugle).
Those in attendance were annoyed that no county councillors were in attendance.

Morgan Doyle and Liam O Neill were singled out for special mention for the mega amount of work and pleasure derived from the CARMAN FAIR.

Steve thanked those who attended and it was generally agreed that next year, our AGM will be held in Spring or Summer but definitely not in Winter – we might just get a few more interested bodies in warmer weather, ‘might’ being the operative word……

Rose B O Donoghue

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