New group hope to save Olympia Leisure Centre
South Belfast residents have launched a campaign to secure the future of a much needed community centre whose fortunes are tied to the £25m Windsor Park redevelopment.
The Olympia Leisure Committee members called residents of the Donegall Road area to a meeting on Wednesday night (October 2) in Olympia Leisure Centre.
It resolved to send a letter to Belfast City Council's Development Committee and Parks and Leisure Committee calling for a meeting to discuss the future of the community centre.
Currently there is no fixed building for a community office and it had been thought that a new community centre with extended facilities would be included in the Windsor Park redevelopment plan.
Community representatives had made it clear when the re-development was announced that they would not accept a dilution of current services to accommodate the new development. However,it has now emerged that plans from the Leisure Committee include spreading facilities throughout the Village area rather than in one central hub.
A Belfast City Council run public consultation on facilities for the planned new stadium entrance, at the site of Olympia Leisure Centre, is still underway but there are fears that a lack of public involvement could mean that the need for a fixed community centre is over-looked.
Community representative Billy Dickson said that there was already a severe lack of community provisions in the area and that he he encouraged all residents to get behind their campaign.
"I was shocked when I received an extensive flier through the door about proposals for the re-development only to find as a footnote on the back page the suggestion that services were to be decentralised.
"What we want to do now is meet with those responsible for drawing up the proposals and highlight what residents have been saying all along, that we need a fixed community facility.
"From the announcement of the Windsor Park funding, local residents have firmly shown their support and backed the plans and that was on the basis that we would benefit as a community.
"There is great potential for everyone to benefit from this scenario and what you have got to ask is, why after all the support that the local community has shown the redevelopment would they then want to take our community centre away?"
"Were asking everyone to get involved and not allow decisions affecting our community to be pre-determined by those outside it."