Some children’s stories have a happy ending. When vandals burned a playground in Alley Pond Park eight and one-half months ago, it left youngsters with nowhere to play. That has now changed.
On Monday, Parks Department and other officials joined children at the rebuilt Oakland Gardens playground. It cost $175,000.
“It is a shame that the community had to go for several months without this playground, but I am pleased that the Alley Pond Park’s children’s playground is open for business once again,” said Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens), who attended the event and had worked with the police to try to find the culprits.
Police believe one or more vandals set fire to the playground at Springfield Boulevard and 76th Avenue on the night of Sept. 27, 2011. The area was closed off by the Parks Department because of unstable conditions. No one was arrested for the crime.
Arson is no stranger to Queens parks. Not too far away in Fresh Meadows, Underhill Playground was torched in 2006. In that case, a 15-year-old boy was arrested for setting the fire.
The boy used a heavy amount of accelerant to set the fire because the equipment was considered virtually fireproof. The replacement cost for the playground equipment was $100,000.
Although the teen was not charged because of his age, authorities pursued damages against his parents.