The Watershed opened for business on 15th December 2008.
It was conceived, planned, funded and developed jointly by Kilkenny Borough Council and Kilkenny County Council with grant aiding from the Dept. Of Transport, Tourism and Sport (€4m approx.). The total expenditure at the time was €20m approx.
The Watershed was built on the site that included an existing running track, grass soccer pitch and synthetic pitch (Scanlon Park), the new facilities also replaced James Stephens Swimming Pool in Michael Street which closed its doors to the public in December 2008.
The Watershed is operated by a limited Company, Kilkenny Local Authorities Leisure Complex Limited, t/a The Watershed which is wholly owned by Kilkenny Local Authority. The Watershed Chief Executive Tina Dowling reports to the Board of Directors.
Mr Billy Murphy, retired Deputy Chief Executive of Glanbia plc, is company Chairman. The Board of Directors includes two elected members of Kilkenny County Council, currently Cllr Pat Millea and Cllr Patrick O’Neill. Dr Niamh Richardson, Mr Pat Crotty and Mr Simon Walton are our other directors.
A key objective for the Company and it's Chief Executive, is to achieve financial self sufficiency each year, i.e. that it’s total income exceeds its total costs while funding its own essential repair, maintenance and renewal programmes. At the same time, there are parallel objectives of promoting usage, participation, accessibility and social inclusion. The pricing structure is very carefully balanced to achieve these objectives. Prices are not subsidised, rather they are market related and keen and aim to provide ‘value for money’. Accessibility is increased through offering “off-peak” and “special time” rates.
All our users are extremely important to our overall success. Our signed-up members, our Pay as you Go customers and our large number of club, school and group users of the pool, sports hall, pitches and track facilities. Kilkenny City Harriers and Kilkenny Swim Club are two of the many clubs that use The Watershed as a base and their on-going club and training activities bring large numbers.
We ourselves run major child, adult and school swim programmes. The large gym and schedule of fitness classes are extremely popular. The Astro pitches are fully booked most evenings and the wonderful sports hall gets a wide range of users from a variety of sports and large championships to birthday parties and cultural events.
The Watershed has established itself as an excellent facility and a very significant enhancement to Kilkenny’s sport and leisure infrastructure. The multiple usage and visitor numbers which have grown from 350,000 to 600,000 per annum are testimony to the wisdom of the initial investment decision.
The on-going challenge for Management and Staff is to build on the early success, to establish The Watershed as a sport and leisure facility admired near and far and used by large numbers of people of all ages and from all walks of life and with its operation continuing to be self funding.