A PARK near Rathmines in Dublin which has been closed for over two years is to reopen its gates to the community after an agreement was reached between a local resident and its owner.
Dartmouth Square resident Peter O’Brien negotiated a deal, which runs to the end of this year, with Athlone businessman and owner of Dartmouth Square park Noel O’Gara to maintain and run the park as an amenity for the locality.
Mr O’Gara bought the park in 2005 for about €10,000 from PJ Darley, whose ancestors built the square in the 1880s. Since then, it has been a source of controversy.
In 2006 it was closed to the public and Mr O’Gara subsequently attempted to set up a tile showroom on the site, and to turn the square into an affordable car park.
An Bord Pleanála approved for Dublin City Council a compulsory purchase order for the land in 2006, but this lapsed last June as the council feared it might have to pay a “substantial and financially prohibitive award” to Mr O’Gara.
Mr O’Brien said the agreement came following a discussion with Mr O’Gara, who was open to “innovative” ideas that made good use of the amenity.
Mr O’Brien said he and other residents hoped the park would host activities for those living in the area, and that he had a contract with Mr O’Gara to do so until the end of the year.
“It’s going to be an experiment to see if we can open a park to the community and have it run by the community for the community.”
He said the park would be open to the public daily, and that events such as children’s football tournaments, barbecues, plays and concerts were likely to take place in coming months.
This afternoon, locals and actors, artists and musicians, including David Kitt and Damien Rice, will gather to mark the reopening of the park. Mr O’Gara said he hoped the development would lead to artistic and entertaining events taking place in the square.
“My long-term aim is to turn it into a car park that would offer the people of Dublin a secure place to leave their cars for €5 a day while they go about their business.”
Labour councillor Oisín Quinn said the park should be brought under city council control.