Help Save College Park!

Help Save College Park!

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Gisèle Scanlon & László Molnárfi started this petition to Trinity College Dublin

I am spearheading the Help Save College Park campaign, to prevent Trinity College from building a two-storey structure on a part of College Park which will deprive the public of attending home football matches, cricket matches and athletics and deprive students, staff and visitors of sports facilities which are precious to our physical and mental health.

Thousands of us including students, staff and members of the public have attended games, trained and enjoyed College Park over the years, to improve our wellbeing and physical and mental health and this proposed structure will put an end to that. We take breaks from the bustling city on its calm fringes, or rush from lectures to play, support a team, or to relax in the good weather and enjoy its peace. I am leading the community to save this space from destruction and to protect it on your behalf for eternity.  

History has shown us that we have been successful in the past as graduates to help Trevor West oppose plans to build student residences on the rugby pitch in College Park. The residences were built instead at Trinity Hall. Now, I am asking for your help to prevent building of any sorts on College Park as to build on College Park is to not only shut down a culture of sport and recreation in this green space when we need it the most, but to shut down another valuable part of Dublin's sporting history.

Irish society has suffered consistently throughout the pandemic; matches cancelled, crowds banned from pitches, clubs unable to train, etc., we have all kept to the rules in the hope that everything would return to normal for us with our friends and that we can attend matches and enjoy a space which contributes to our physical and psychological well-being in the heart of every city. Isolation has ravaged us as a generation and as a country and our open green spaces are more important to us now, more than ever to help protect our mental health.  

The football club D.U.A.F.C. is the oldest surviving associated football club in the Republic of Ireland and they have explained that to not be able to play home games in College Park will decimate the men's and women's A.F.C. teams and rob them of home and public support in Trinity College. There's an instance of this in the past, when the rugby team had to go outside for training and games, there was a sharp decline in players attending training and a decline in public participation. 

The Cricket club is over 200 years old and has been instrumental in hosting Women's Internationals. With a depleted outfield important matches will be impacted or worse, not fielded all and this has raised deep concern for the club.      

College Park is also the home of Dublin University Harriers Athletics Club (DUHAC) and the captain explained to me that as a club they simply cannot afford to lose this facility. They prides themselves on being an easy accessible club where recreational runners can train alongside world class athletes and College Park is at the heart of this. While they fully endorse the Old Library Redevelopment Project they have grave concerns for the College Park proposals and the detrimental effects these proposals will have grave concerns for their club. 

Protecting College Park is also in line with COP26 second goal of protecting communities and natural habitats. The value of parks is also emphasized in the Dublin's Parks Strategy 2019-2022 which stipulates that parks offer recreation and health benefits, identity of a place, social interaction and community, environmental benefits, and biodiversity. 

Please sign this petition to ask Trinity College to find a different location for this pavilion structure such as New Square in Trinity College which doesn’t take away space from students and the public and impact our well-being, our mental health and our sport in Dublin.  #HelpSaveCollegePark

Background to Help Save College Park:

On October 15th 2021, I raised my concern publicly on Twitter and started this petition after I opposed the idea of a structure on College Park at the Trinity Estates Policy Committee in Trinity College Dublin. I am the student voice on the Estates Policy Committee and I lodged a vote of dissent as I believe College has not adequately engaged with the sports clubs which would be severely impacted by the proposal. The measurement for the football pitch is inadequate, the Cricket outfield is decimated and the athletics track would no longer be 400 metres. Despite my opposition, the proposal proceeded to Trinity College Board on November 3rd. I spoke out again against a proposed structure on November 3rd at Trinity College Board and others joined me. I will continue to represent  those who need representation and protection and I will speak out against this proposal until another venue is found. I would ask you if you are reading this to support us in our campaign to Help Save College Park.   

A two story temporary exhibition structure which could sit on College Park for three years and host a virtual exhibition while the Old Library is being refurbished would severely impact the sport experience in Trinity and I am asking that College finds an alternative location please and let us continue our sports and the public's enjoyment of it. Somewhere off campus would cater to tourists or remove some cars off of campus and look at putting this temporary three year structure on Trinity’s Nassau Street car park which will also do good for the environment. I’m currently lobbying College for Dublin City Council to look at this. 

If this is passed, we are facing a very sad scenario, where those who come to Trinity, will not be able to play a single match on their home ground for four years, in College Park if this structure is built, which is a really bleak proposition. Imagine being part of a club and not being able to play on your home ground?

Our sport and recreation space is very important to us as students for our health, wellbeing and mental capacity and as the student voice on the Estates Policy Committee I am passionate about protecting this student space. I disagreed with these plans and noted my dissent on Wednesday October 15th 2021 at Estates Policy Committee. On behalf of my community, I’d like College Park to be protected both now and into the future for student (and staff) activity. We would also like permanent floodlighting to be installed to make it safer space for us as students and to extend College Park’s usage for us into the evenings please.

Please sign this petition and join our College community, please Help Save College Park because it is part of our community and has helped us so much to date:

1.     It’s a really peaceful and restful space for the public and students and a safe space for us to exercise and rest and it improves our mental health so please help us to keep it peaceful.

2.     It is the home ground of the Dublin University Cricket Club (DUCC) which has been at the forefront of Irish cricket for almost two centuries. The planned tourist structure would reduce the Cricket outfield significantly and the current plans depicting the structure don’t even show the correct dimensions. The plans are created from the incorrect perspective - creases on the wicket actually look as if they will be impacted. The Cricket pitch is drawn as a circle on the plans, it’s not a circle.

3.     College Park is also home ground to the oldest surviving association football club in the Republic of Ireland; Dublin University A.F.C. (DUAFC). Founded in 1883 DUAFC plays its home matches at College Park. No student will get to play a match on this home ground for three years if this structure goes ahead. Why?

4.     No one has bothered to check out what the correct dimensions are for the various sports facilities and at least put them on a correct map as opposed to incorrect plans. Whoever put the words UEFA before a 48 metre wide football pitch… that person needs to know that the pitch is already on the small side. 48 metres is way too narrow. UEFA requires min 64 metres x 100 metres.

5.     Dublin University Harriers and Athletics Club (DUHAC) also train in College Park and have broken numerous records training there and the club has the biggest turnout of men and women and welcomes runners of all abilities. The men’s and women’s athletics team have amongst others, postgraduates and sports scholars as members. Without a correct running track these scholarships will be in jeopardy.

6.     During the track season (April-September approx.) DUHAC the athletics club use the 400m lime track that Estates and Facilities line out. This is a central piece of Trinity’s sporting history. The construction of an exhibition installation would mean that the club could no longer train on campus and participation would decline dramatically.

7.     Reducing the running space will cause runners to bottle on corners as they run too fast and will render it a completely ineffective training space.  

8.     The College Races are over 100 years old, and past competitors included Ronnie Delaney and many other Olympic medallists. There were plans for the College Races to be revived for the 150th anniversary of DUHAC, and to Oxford and Cambridge to take part. The plans to reduce the track to 300m would scupper these races entirely. 

9.     This is not a fait accompli, clubs and students were not consulted. We are being told what the plans are and that is not correct consultation of the various stakeholders.

10.  The two story structure will no doubt impact Library staff and students casting a shadow along the side of the Berkeley. There are better spaces for this structure on campus including the obvious New Square or the Nassau carpark, or even a space off campus which won’t impact our student sports facilities over the next three years.   

As students we’d be most grateful for your support as this impacts us and members of the public who enjoy this space! Please as a College community, please.. Help Save College Park.  

#HelpSaveCollegePark

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At 5,000 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!