Paying for the park!

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IN 1969 a plan was put forward to the Borough Council by Councillor Billy McKinley to make Lurgan Park an even greater attraction.

But far from heaping extra commitments on the already overburdened ratepayers, Mr McKinley saw his scheme as a possible way of easing the financial situation at the time.

In his view the park could become a commercial proposition, a place which could make money to add even further improvements for outdoor sports and relive the ratepayers of the high cost of the upkeep.

Pedal boats, rubber dinghies, picnic areas, car parks, illumination at night, a bigger covered paddling pool, deck chairs for hire, miniature golf, a first class putting green and possibly even a petting zoo were just some of the thoughts Mr McKinley had, had on his mind “for years.”

He envisaged people flocking to the park where they could go for a quiet stroll or participate in its various recreational amenities.

Lurgan swimming pool was also included in Mr McKinley’s plans, while other areas of the park would remain the same.

“I believe that where a few years ago anything commercial in the park would have been frowned on we can go ahead now. People are not content with only a walk. The demands nowadays are much greater and I feel that by incorporating these things in the park we would not only be giving a service but would be reducing the upkeep costs of the place,” said Councillor McKinley.

Many of Mr McKinley’s ideas stemmed from the time he spent in Canada and the United States. Then, back in the 1920s, Canadian towns and cities had made full use of areas even less able to cope than our own park.

“When I have gone through the park during the summer I have seen young mothers bringing their children down to the paddling pool and they enjoy a picnic there. They find it every bit as good as the seaside but don’t have the inconvenience of travelling twenty or thirty miles,” he continued.

“So couldn’t they enjoy it all that much more with a proper scheme?”

He would have also liked to have seen a substantial shop where most of the needs for a day out could be bought.

What he put forward was just an idea, a dream which he hoped could become a reality in the future.

“We must cater for the age we are living in,” he concluded.