Temple to rebuild destroyed park playground

Channel 6 news reporter Kurtis Quillin reports.

For the second year in a row, the city of Temple is having to rebuild a playground destroyed by a fire.

Three teenagers confessed to setting the playground at Jefferson neighborhood on fire in January.

While the park has been without a playground all summer, that will soon change.

They are estimating four to five months to finish the playground once the break ground – which the city’s parks and recreation department told Channel 6 will be done by the end of the month.

The good news is not limited to the return of Jefferson’s playground either.

“Nobody comes over here anymore,” Temple resident Amber Thornal said. “Everybody walks the park and plays at the park. Now, the kids don’t have anywhere to go.”

It’s not often a playground is destroyed by arson.

In fact, a representative from Temple’s Department of Parks and Recreation said he has never seen it in Temple.

However, in 2016, Wilson Park lost its playground to arson and in January, Jefferson’s playground went up in flames.

Temple Parks Planner Kim Mettenbrink said renovations are expected to begin this month.

“They’ll be finished within three or four months from the start date,” Mettenbrink said.

Plans have been finalized and the city waits for the playground to be rebuilt.

More than half of the playground will have to be replaced. That includes the shade cover for the playground and one of the four poles holding the cover up.

The cost for the new playground is $74,000.

Mettenbrink said taxpayers are not going to be responsible for any of the repairs because the playgrounds are inusred.

“It’s great that it’s not coming out of our paychecks, but that money has to come from somewhere,” she said.

Temple Department of Parks and Recreation told Channel 6 the playground will be the exact same as the old park once it is installed -- same slides, same platforms. 

Life at the Jefferson park will return to normal. 

"Growing up here, I've always played across the street in the park here," Thornal said. "We played sports and everything. This is what we do growing up here."

Thornal grew up next to Jefferson park for 35 years. She said every kid should have the opportunity to play at Jefferson park.

The city of Temple hopes to not have to replace any more playgrounds due to fires, and hope residents nearby will keep a close eye on them. 

© 2017 KCEN-TV


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