The vacant site in Monksland pictured last summer. (Image: Google Maps)

Monksland vacant site dubbed 'an accident waiting to happen'

A large vacant site in Monksland was once again the subject of discussion at the March meeting of Roscommon County Council members of Athlone Municipal District, with one councillor describing it as “an accident waiting to happen.”

“The hoarding is completely down at Parkway and it’s only a matter of time before it blows into the path of an oncoming car… it’s an accident waiting to happen,” declared Cllr John Naughten, who said the council has “no option but to go in there and make that site safe.”

Cllr Naughten, who was one of the number of councillors to urge council officials to secure the controversial site, said the Fire Brigade were called out to the Parkway site recently, and it is a popular spot for some young people to meet and engage in anti-social behaviour.

The site is on the southern side of the R362 opposite the Waterville estate and was subject to Roscommon County Council planning permission for 163 houses and a creche in 2006 for what was to be known as Parkway development.

Independent Cllr Tony Ward told the meeting he regularly gets phone calls from concerned residents in Monksland about parties taking place on the Parkway site “involving up to 20 or 30 youths” and he said there are “very serious concerns” about safety issues in relation to this derelict site.

“There is a river crossing on the lands in the vicinity of the Parkway site, and what kind of a reaction would we get as councillors, and what kind of a reaction would Roscommon County Council get, if there was a tragedy involving a young person out there?” asked Cllr Ward.

While the Council’s Director of Services Majella Hunt agreed that there are serious problem in relation to the Parkway site, she specifically stated that the issue of youths on the site is “not the responsibility of the council.”

Ms Hunt reiterated, as she has done at previous meetings, that the Parkway site is is private ownership, and while it is registered under the Derelict Sites Act, the owners of the site had not engaged with Roscommon County Council on any of the issues raised.

“I can certainly take a look at the hoardings, but we are awaiting final advice from the council’s solicitor in relation to this site, and I will inform councillors of this advice when I receive it,” said Ms. Hunt.

Describing abandoned sites as “an ongoing issue” Cllr Paddy Kilduff said it was “something shocking” that private sites all around the country could just “be abandoned by owners” and that the Government can’t compel those owners to take responsibility for them.

“I am not blaming Roscommon County Council here,” pointed out Cllr Kilduff “because the necessary legislation in place is not nearly strong enough to force owners into owning up to their responsibilities.”

Cllr John Keogh described the Parkway site as “a ridiculous situation” and said it would only take “a gust of wind” to blow the broken down hoarding into the path of an oncoming car. 

“Then we would have a very serious situation” he added.