Athlone Town Council met yesterday (Tuesday) evening to approve loans worth 4.5m for three major projects in the town.
The councillors held a special meeting to discuss seeking loans of 1.2m for the Athlone Castle Visitor Centre; 2.3m for the Loughanaskin Regeneration Scheme and 1m for Athlone Regional Sports Centre.
The sports centre is running at a deficit and earlier this year sought additional funds from the council for the running of the sports centre, which marked its tenth anniversary this year.
The 1m loan, if approved, will be used to refurbish and extend the sports centre to make it more competitive with other facilities in the area.
A significant investment is needed to bring it up to date and if the loan is approved the council has a ten-year payback plan in place.
The 2.3m loan for Loughanaskin will simply allow the council to balance its books, rather than having a deficit for the works, and will not see additonal work in the area, other than some minor landscaping works. The work on the regeneration scheme for the area is largely complete, but has resulted in a large deficit on the council's books.
The 2.3m loan will allow the council to take away this deficit from the books and would result in a 25 year payback plan.
The loan of 1.2m for the Castle Visitor Centre will cover the council's contribution towards the 4.5m project. It was always planned that the council would pay some of the cost of the renovation of the castle, but until all grants were received it wasn't clear how much the council would have to pay.
A total of 3.6m has been received from other sources for the work, leaving the council to pay 1.2m, which it will pay back over 15 years.
Councillors met yesterday evening to discuss the issue after the Westmeath Independent had gone to press. See next week's paper for a report of the meeting.