Westmeath GAA County Board should find out later this week whether their ambitious plan to take out a long term lease on Columb Barracks is a runner.
County board officials met with representatives from the Department of Defence last Thursday to discuss the possibility of securing a 20 year lease on the barracks.
Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner, chairman Sean Sheridan said that it looks “very positive” that there will be a positive response from the department regarding the county board’s plan to develop a centre of excellence at the barracks.
“They will be coming back to us hopefully later this week. We put our proposal to them looking for a long term lease and they were very impressed. We are hoping to get a 15 or 20 year lease. They brought off our recommendations and it looks positive.”
The county board signed a one year lease on the barracks last summer. While he believes that the department may want to break the lease into four or five years segments, Mr Sheridan says that he is confident that an agreement can be reached that will secure the facility for the long term - a development that will benefit the entire sporting community.
“It’s gone brilliantly. Everyone is using the facility, not just the GAA. We have had scouts, cyclists and lots of other sporting activities. It’s been open seven nights a week.”
At last month’s county board meeting, Columb Barracks management committee member Tom Carr, who is also the manager of the Westmeath minor team, told delegates that while the county board had invested signicantly in weight rooms and a purpose-built gym it is money “exceptionally well spent”.
Mr Sheridan says that the county board has had expressions of interest from a number of sporting codes but that some of these discussions have been put on hold until a long term lease has been secured.