Organisers Eamon Wyen and Shay McNally at Ratoath BMX club.
Ratoath BMX Club has been unable to draw down a much-needed grant of 7,200 it was awarded by Meath County Council, or apply for grants from other sources, because of issues over the length of its lease, it has emerged.
The community BMX track is located on a three-acre site at Fairyhouse Road, Ratoath, that is part of a 50-acre parcel of land which was owned by the Robert Butler Group. These lands have since been transferred to the National Asset Management Agency (Nama), which will not grant a licence (similar to a lease) of any longer than six months.
This has prevented the club from drawing down the 7,200 grant it was awarded by Meath County Council under the Community Grants Scheme or applying for other funding from other sources, such as the National Lottery.
This has been a source of much frustration for Ratoath BMX Club, which now has over 530 members of all ages who enjoy the community facility.
The land on which the track is located is part of a five-acre parcel that is zoned for community facilities. An agreement was reached with the Robert Butler Group, which allowed the club use of the land and the track was developed entirely through fundraising, costing in the region of 60,000.
While the club had a letter of permission from the then owners for use of the land, it was only after the land had been transferred to Nama and the club was trying to draw down their grant that it realised there was no formal licence in place.
The BMX club has since secured a rolling licence from Nama for six months but this is too short a term and does not meet the criteria of most grant schemes which require a longer term.
Club chairman Shay McNally explained that the club was awarded 7,200 from Meath County Council last year and, while waiting to draw this money down, had taken out a bank loan for the sum, which was to be repaid when the grant came through.
However, the problem with the licence means the club has not received the money and must still pay back the loan. About half the loan has been repaid and the club got an extension - but the balance is soon due.
The club has got an extension to draw down the grant from Meath County Council but, unless it can get a longer lease from Nama, it will not be in a position to do so.
Mr McNally said he had been trying to deal with Nama but it will not deal directly with the club, only through solicitors. The BMX club had to engage a solicitor at a cost of 1,500 to the club. He also said that some of the conditions of the lease are very restrictive.
Mr McNally said the best option would be for Meath County Council to buy the land the track is on from Nama.
He said they would like their track to be based on the UK model, where the tracks are built on council land and are run by the community.
If this is not possible, he said the next best thing would be if the council could ignore the requirement for the five-year lease and allow the club draw down its loan.
Local TD Deputy Regina Doherty has been working with the club since it was set up and has written a letter to Nama about the issue.
Deputy Doherty said it is unlikely the council will purchase the land as it is only for sale in a 50-acre lot and the council would not have money to buy it.
She is hoping that Nama will agree to a two-year rolling licence that would allow the club access the funds that she said would make such a difference to the club.
"I had (Junior Minister for Sport) Michael Ring out to visit the club and he has written to Nama, It is a very slow-moving ball but it is rolling and I am genuinely optimistic that, by the end of the year, we will have the sports licence we need," said Deputy Doherty.
She added that Meath County Council has been extremely supportive of the club and has committed to build a path from Ratoath out to the track on the same side by the end of the year and has also promised to money to enhance the entrance.