Damage will delay opening of Special Needs Playground

·2 min read

Sep. 10—WILKES-BARRE — Damage done to the Special Needs Playground in Kirby Park will push back the expected opening to later this month, Mayor George Brown said.

The synthetic base was marred when it was walked on and dug into while it was hardening and a piece of equipment was removed.

In an update Friday on the status of repairs, Brown said he found a piece of the zip line far away from the other equipment.

"It's going to open up. We probably would have had the ribbon-cutting this coming weekend, but I can't see it happening," Brown said. "I want to do it by the end of September."

The company that installed the base will provide an estimate to replace the damaged section. Joe Rodano of the city's Office of Community Development used a measuring wheel Friday afternoon to get the dimensions of the damaged area by the zip line.

The base is made of several layers, with the top a type of rubber material that's poured in, Brown explained. It was installed last weekend and had to cure, or set, for several days, he added.

"But what happened was some people went over, tore down the construction fence, went in there and there's permanent foot marks. But they also dug up chunks of it and threw it on the side," Brown said. Pieces of the blue and black flecked base still could be found outside the fence in the area seeded and covered with hay.

More than $520,000 was raised through donations for the park that's designed for children who cannot use the swings and slides and other equipment nearby. Brown made its construction a priority, established a committee to see it through and gathered support from throughout the area.

The base alone cost $130,000, but there's not that much left in the balance to do it all over, Brown said. The hope is that repairs can be limited to the damaged section.

To ensure there's no more damage, Brown said the gates to the park will be locked and the nighttime restrictions enforced. One person was arrested Wednesday night by police who are patrolling the park, he said.

In addition to the roving patrols, new lighting will be installed, as well as high-definition cameras.

"We're going to get this taken care of," Brown said.

Reach Jerry Lynott at 570-991-6120 or on Twitter @TLJerryLynott.