Palmerstown Youth & Community Centre
How did we get here?
Thanks to a lot of dedication and commitment from community and business interests the Palmerstown Community Centre was officially opened on Tuesday 26th June 2012 .
This is a project which took many years to bring to fruition.
The story began in 1980 when the then Palmerstown community was promised a site for a Community Centre, a site for a Scouts Den and space for a Library on lands at Kennelsfort Rd Upper. The intention was that whenever the lands were developed, the site for the Community Centre was to be ceded to the County Council for transfer to Palmerstown Community Council for the use of the community.
Over the next number of years despite efforts by the owners of the site none of the Supermarket retail multiples showed any interest in developing a shopping centre on the site.
The community expressed a strong interest in a shopping centre and the Palmerstown Community Council, rowing in behind the then landowners wrote to all the Supermarket multiples seeking to attract them to Palmerstown but they each turned down the invitation. A newly formed Palmerstown Community Cooperative explored the feasibility of opening a consumers cooperative on the lands but this too came to nothing.
In 1987, a developer approached Palmerstown Community Council with plans to build a shopping centre on the site with the anchor tenant being a SUPERVALU Supermarket.
Around the same time Palmerstown Community Council in 1987/8 embarked on a major fund raising campaign to fund the building of a Community Centre. This effort was marketed under the banner “Palmerstown Amenity and Leisure Society” (PALS) and raised a significant sum that (under three trustees from the community) was subsequently lodged in an investment fund with the clear stipulation that it could not be, and was not, touched for any other purpose. By 2012 the value of PALS stood at c €130,000.
When the Shopping Centre was almost complete Palmerstown Community Council decided to begin the process of planning for the Community Centre. However, difficulties then arose in relation to the location of the site for the Community Centre. The matter was resolved when a compromise was reached and the County Council in consultation with Palmerstown Community Council agreed to an alternative site. This 4000 sq ft site was identified to the West of and adjacent to the SUPERVALU Supermarket on lands that had been purchased by the Developer.
In the following years, successive Palmerstown Community Councils explored various options involving a number of feasibility studies for the building of a Community Centre. At one point significant discussions took place on the possibility of having a joint venture with Pobailscoil Iosolde,PalmerstownCommunitySchool, that had been seeking a sports/assembly hall for many years.
In 2003, following enlightened policy decisions at Government level that proposed that second level schools and communities could share certain publicly funded facilities, it was agreed that a Dual Purpose Sports Hall would be built attached to Pobailscoil Iosolde for the Community of Palmerstown (to cater for the school during school hours and for the community at all other times). As the building at Pobailsoil Iosolde got underway, Palmerstown Community Council considered it to be no longer necessary to provide a large hall (e.g. for indoor sports such as basketball etc).
Palmerstown Community Council engaged in a major re-evaluation of the needs of the community and began to explore the possibility of building a different type of Community Centre at the Shopping Centre site, one that would complement existing community facilities for the residents and community of Palmerstown.
Best estimates at this stage (c 2003) indicated that the cost of building the community centre would be in excess of €1.25m. It was time to take stock of both the needs of the area and the feasibility of both building and then operating the proposed Community Centre.
In addition, it began to emerge that nearby residents had concerns about the proposed Community Centre, but did indicate that they would not have the same objections if the centre could be incorporated into the Shopping Centre. This led Palmerstown Community Council to investigate the purchase of the (then vacant) premises on the first floor of the shopping centre that had been earmarked for a Library. The cost proved prohibitive and besides the Community Council had a site which came at no cost and represented a significant asset and a potential starting point.
Palmerstown Community Council then entered into discussions with the owner of Palmerstown SUPERVALU with a view to a joint venture. South Dublin County Council, who had been involved with the Community Council down the years to secure the Community Centre, was supportive of the concept although not centrally involved.
Agreement was reached, with SUPERVALU agreeing to build the Community Centre at no cost to the Community. It was agreed that the Community Centre would be on the top storey of the development so as to gather maximum natural light through the roof thus providing more flexibility as to future use and eliminating the need for windows that could prove a nuisance to local residents. In addition it met the immediate local need to have the centre “incorporated” in the Shopping Centre.
Planning permission for the development was granted in February 2006 and work commenced on site the following November.
The final detail in relation to the completed building still needed to be ironed out. Palmerstown Community Council entered into formal negotiations with Palmerstown SUPERVALU for the completion of the building and with South Dublin County Council for a grant towards the fit-out. It took time and dedication on both sides to deal with all of the issues in relation to specifications and fit-out and the apportionment of the final costs.
In parallel, the Community Council with the support of Brian Sherry, Solicitor, who gave of his services for free, set up a legal structure with an independent Board that is designed to ensure that the Community Centre is managed to the highest corporate governance standards and in trust for the people of Palmerstown.
At this point, the PALS monies were transferred to the New Community Centre with €100,000 going as the Community contribution to building fit-out costs and the remainder towards the ongoing financing of the centre. In turn, South Dublin County Council contributed €30,000 towards building fit-out costs with the promise of further contributions in further years. All of the construction costs for the development were borne by SuperValu Palmerstown.
And so, in June 2012 Palmerstown Community Council held the first public function in the new Community Centre: A Tea Dance in association with the annual Palmerstown Community Festival; a few months later in early September it opened its doors and became populated by a number of community organisations, TUS workers began to provide round the clock service and the Palmerstown Community Centre that had first been proposed in 1980 became a reality; functioning as the vibrant hub of an historic and modern community fully vindicating the vision and foresight of those who first suggested it back in 1973 when the Palmerstown Community Council itself came into being.