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Queens Chronicle

Police seek arsonist in playground fire

Alley Pond Park site destroyed, just like Underhill Playground in 2006

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Posted: Thursday, October 6, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 2:05 pm, Thu Oct 13, 2011.

Police are looking for tips on who set the fire at a playground in Alley Pond Park in Oakland Gardens last week that left youngsters without a place to have fun.

Between the evening of Sept. 27 and the morning of Sept. 28, one or more lawbreakers set fire to the playground at the corner of Springfield Boulevard and 76th Avenue that damaged the safety flooring and several pieces of equipment. The area has been closed off due to unstable conditions.

“The children of our community have lost access to a beautiful and safe place to play,” said Councilman Mark Weprin (D-Oakland Gardens), who asked people with information to call the NYPD Crime Stoppers.

Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski said Friday that the arson is a terrible crime against the community. “We are working closely with NYPD and FDNY to investigate this incident ...,” Lewandowski said. “We are currently estimating the damage and hope, with the council member’s help, we can secure funding to repair it as soon as possible.”

This is not the first time the Parks Department has had to deal with arson at a playground in Queens. In 2006, a 15-year-old boy was arrested for setting a fire in Underhill Playground in Fresh Meadows.

The youth used a lot of accelerant such as gasoline to set the blaze because the equipment was virtually fireproof. The replacement cost was estimated at $100,000.

Because of his age, the teen was not charged, but authorities pursued damages against his parents.

Anyone with information on the Oakland Gardens fire is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 577-TIPS (8477).The public can also submit tips by logging onto nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting 274637 (CRIMES), then entering TIP577. All tips are strictly confidential.

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