THOMASVILLE — Playground equipment destroyed by fire last year at Paradise Park will soon be replaced by the City of Thomasville and other local organizations.

In November 2005, the equipment was destroyed in an apparent arson and was removed from the park. The city has now ordered new equipment to restore the play structure.

“That park is heavily used, and we had quite a few concerned citizens that contacted various members of the city about the loss,” said Gwen Ridley, director of Public Works and Facilities. “It was donated by the community, so we felt that it was our responsibility to replace it.”

The playground equipment was originally purchased by the Paradise Park Conservancy — a group of citizens concerned with the park's well-being. That group will also contribute about $4,000 to purchasing the new equipment, which will be identical to the equipment destroyed.

The city’s insurance will pay for a portion of the estimated $35,000 cost for the new playground equipment. Cub Scout Pack 316, which sold wristbands to raise money for new playground equipment, will also donate funds.

Ridley said the city does not have a timeline for installing the new equipment, but that it would be sometime after Rose Show weekend at the end of the month.

At its last meeting, the Thomasville City Council approved replacing the playground equipment. Councilmember Camille Payne said restoring the play area is important to the community.

“The council felt it was important to replace the playground equipment that was burned, because we have so many children who enjoyed it. So many of the parents and the children have requested that we replace it,” Payne said.

The person responsible for setting fire to the playground equipment has not been captured, and the city offered a $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the culprit.

“I hope that whoever the culprits were will know that we certainly have not forgotten about it. We are still trying to determine who burned the playground equipment,” Payne said. “We expect the new equipment to be treated with respect and not destroyed. We want it there for the children to enjoy.”

To contact reporter Brewer Turley, call (229) 226-2400, ext. 226.

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