WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Shock and anger are the best ways to describe the public’s reaction to damage at a special needs playground that’s yet to officially open.
The playground was awaiting the finishing touches when someone vandalized it.
Eyewitness News has covered the construction of this special needs playground at Kirby Park ever since the first phase started last fall. Now, the playground’s opening that was supposed to happen next week is on hold until repairs can be made.
As parents and grandparents brought their children Thursday afternoon to the traditional playground area at Kirby Park, they noticed caution tape surrounding the new special needs playground.
“It’s just really unfortunate. I mean, look how beautiful it looks and you have already damage,” said Andrea Rodano, of Wilkes-Barre.
Right near a bench below the special needs zip line is where someone dug up some of the pour-in-place rubber playground surfaces.
“It’s very unfortunate somebody just tried to, you know, damage the things since it’s a very nice place for handicap,” stated Mohammad Abdullah, of Dunmore.
Despite a fence to keep everyone out, someone mangled the fence and gouged the surface base which cost more than $100,000.
“For this to happen is upsetting for a lot of reasons that are, probably don’t need to be stated,” said Dan Rosler, of Moosic.
Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown took photos of the damage which he noticed on Wednesday when he checked out the rubbery playground surface. It was just installed during the labor day weekend.
“Someone definitely walked on it when it wasn’t cured but also someone took pieces and just chopped it out and cut it out,” said Mayor Brown.
The damage wasn’t all he discovered.
“I also found some alcoholic beverage cans, empty cans, so whoever was in there was drinking alcoholic beverages,” said Mayor Brown
Mayor Brown says he’s relieved the 11 pieces of special needs playground equipment weren’t damaged. Now, his administration is taking steps to help prevent vandalism from happening here again including nighttime police patrols and locking the parking lot gates. And that’s not all.
“We’re going to install a new pole, put new lighting up over there for the special needs park but also I ordered high definition cameras. We’re going to see what’s going on over there 24/7,” stated Mayor Brown.
Mayor Brown says police arrested someone Wednesday night for trespassing at the park after dark.
Meantime, the company that installed the rubbery playground surface will inspect it next week to determine the next move. The playground opening will be rescheduled at a date to be determined.