LARNE Council has given its backing in principle to a proposed new attraction that could allow people to walk on water at Carnfunnock Country Park.
Ian Lough, who has been the tenant of the park’s Family Fun Zone since 2004, wants to introduce the hugely popular activity known as WOW (walk on water) balls to the borough.
The activity involves a large inflatable sphere that allows a person to climb inside it and walk across the surface of water. The giant ball has a zipped entrance to allow for easy entry and exit, and has enough breathable air inside to last for up to an hour.
Mr Lough, who has established numerous activities at the fun zone over the years such as miniature golf, remote controlled boats, a bungie run and laser clay pigeon shooting, plans to set up a one-foot deep, 12m by 12m inflatable pool to cater for the proposed attraction. The maximum number of people allowed in the pool at any one time would be limited to five, for safety reasons.
Elected representatives discussed Mr Lough’s proposal at a recent meeting of the leisure committee in Smiley Buildings,
Minutes from the meeting state that councillors were urged by director of development Linda McCullough to “consider the balance” between a country park and an amusement park.
Mrs McCullough told members that the amusement element at Carnfunnock had expanded more than any other and there would be a point when they would need to consider when this expansion should stop.
Councillor Martin Wilson suggested that when requests from the private sector to install attractions at Carnfunnock were received, they should be judged on their contribution to the overall budget of the park along with suitability considerations.
Councillor Mark McKinty thought development of attractions at the park “should not be stifled” as they encouraged use of Carnfunnock as a whole. He said each application should be considered on its own merits as and when applied for in order to keep expansion under control.
Mayor, Councillor Bobby McKee believed private investment should be encouraged at Carnfunnock, and Councillor Maureen Morrow thought that amenities for older children should be supported to help attract youth groups to the park.
And it was pointed out by Councillor Gregg McKeen that Mr Lough’s plan was to create a non-permanent structure, meaning that the site could be returned to its original condition if and when it is no longer in use.
Mrs McCullough informed members that while Mr Lough had already leased the portion of land he required to set up the WOW balls facility, she added that because further income would be generated from this attraction, the district valuer should re-evaluate the lease.
It was resolved that the council should support Mr Lough’s proposal in principle, subject to appropriate planning approval being granted, renegotiation of the lease and reinstatement of the land should the activity cease.