THREE years after Craigavon Borough Council ordered two giant sculptures for Portadown and Lurgan, the Department of Social Development has come through with £177,000 to install them - almost three times the £62,000 cost of the 12-foot high figures.
The grant from the DSD was confirmed at the council’s development committee on Monday night, and comes after the statues - by Donegal artist Maurice Harron - were delivered in June 2011 and have lain on the grass at Carn Depot ever since then, covered in tarpaulin.
But it could still be several months before the statues are actually installed on the sites set aside - next to Northway at West Street in Portadown, and on the town centre YMCA site in Lurgan.
Firstly, planning permission will have to be secured, and there are snags to be overcome in both places in a process that has been slow and cumbersome from the start.
It will require £52,000 to set the Portadown statue in place, and the Lurgan figure will be twice that amount. The Portadown Times understands that the foundations for the Portadown one cannot be prepared until it is ascertained where the old railway turntable at West Street was situated. It was razed to the ground in the 1960s, and a survey will have to be carried out to plan the site works for the statue.
And the Lurgan one is even more complicated. With the YMCA facility in the main street being on the site of the old underground toilets, it will have to be filled in, with an estimated cost of £106,000. The rest of the £177,000 is made up of professional fees.
However, a council source underlined that neither the cost of the sculptures or the installation will cost the council a penny, with the DSD covering all the costs.
The stainless steel figures depict the Bramley apple industry of the surrounding area, while Lurgan’s shows off the town’s linen history.
The process of getting them from creation to installation has been tortuous. They lay on the grass for a year before the council technicians came up with a ‘key action plan’ - development of location criteria; identification of potential locations; options appraisals; preferred options engineering and designs; statutory approvals; and installations.
Deputy Mayor Arnold Hatch - the main critic of the long wait - said at the time he did not understand “any of that palaver”, and added this week, “Naturally, I’m delighted that the installation funds have come through. But the long wait isn’t over yet. I am fully supportive of the projects which I believe will enhance both towns. I just wish they would get on with it.”