Credit Union proposes €1m civic centre for Donegal Town

“This project is for the community and will be owned by the community.”

Sue Doherty

Reporter:

Sue Doherty

Credit Union proposes €1m civic centre for Donegal Town

The architect's initial impression of the proposed civic centre in Donegal Town, which would house the library, Family Resource Centre and Foróioge.

Donegal Town could have a new €1m civic centre in the near future, thanks to the local credit union.

A proposal for the project, which would house the library, Family Resource Centre and Foróige, is being put to members of Donegal Town Credit Union at their Annual General Meeting next Monday night.

The meeting takes place at 8pm in the St John Bosco Centre.

The new building, which would be community-owned, members have been told, would be built in the heart of the town, next to the credit union's new premises which were opened just over a year ago.

Architect Declan McCabe told the Democrat that, although the project is at a very preliminary stage, the new building will cost in excess of €1 million.

“This is a significant project, a two and a half storey building with a footprint of around 10,000 sq. ft. That’s approximately twice the footprint of Aldi.

“If it goes ahead, it will be done to a high standard. We are looking at a long term sustainable development, in keeping with the quality and specifications of the credit union premises.”

The front elevation features an elegant mixture of stone and glass, which will add to the amenities of the area, he continued. “The design of the building was inspired by the shape of the Bluestack Mountains, such a stunning feature of the landscape around Donegal Town. By integrating the building into the landscape of Miller's Hill, it will evoke a mountain range.”

The building will also house a public café and there will be meeting/exhibitions spaces both inside and in front of the premises.

In addition, there while there will be “plenty of additional parking” off Séné Lane, Mr McCabe stated.

If members vote in favour of the project, a trust will be set up, made up of local people.

The credit union will donate €600,000 toward the cost of buying the site and starting construction. The trust will then borrow, at a special low rate of interest, the rest of the funds needed from the credit union.

Space will then be leased out by Donegal County Council for the library, and Tusla Child and Family agency for the FRC and Foróige. Income from the leases will be used to repay the credit union loan.

The idea is the brainchild of the credit union's CEO, Liam Kelly and Cllrs Tom Conaghan and John Campbell.

The credit union has been in discussions with the county librarian Eileen Burgess, members of Donegal County Council as well Foróige and Donegal Family Resource Centre (FRC).

The credit union’s board “decided that this was something that was worth pursuing as the Credit Union 50th anniversary is in 2017,” the spokesperson explained.

“They felt that this was a great way of giving something back to the community and its’ members who have supported the Credit Union over the 50 years.It is also a strong part of the ethos of the Credit Union.”

So far, the response from members has been “very positive”, with more than 600 putting their signatures to the plan.

The credit union’s members will be asked at the AGM for approval to donate €600,000 toward the construction of the building and for the credit union to apply to the Central Bank for permission to finance the project.

“This project is for the community and will be owned by the community,” the spokesperson emphasises. “This is all dependent on us getting final approval from the Central Bank.”

If the project goes ahead, the credit union hopes that, as far as possible, all associated works and materials will be provided by local businesses.

Donegal Town Credit Union has grown from humble beginnings in 1967 to being one of the biggest organisations in the town, with a membership of more than 7,300.

In keeping with the credit union ethos, Donegal Town Credit Union is owned and run by its members, with its focus firmly on benefiting the entire community.