Volunteers were heartbroken after arsonists destroyed play equipment at the new Armley Park playground, writes Jean Baron.
The playground had not been open seven months ago – but an arson attack on Friday night saw a claim frame destroyed along with much of the surrounding soft surface, causing thousands of pounds of damage.
A swing was also smashed and a recently planted tree felled.
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Friends of Armley and Gotts Park volunteers have spent eight years campaigning and raising money to improve the facilities.
Friends posted on social media: “We are very sorry to report such sad news. No words. We will be discussing with councilors and police what can be done about this in the coming days.
“We will also set up a crowdfunder if necessary to replace the equipment as soon as possible.”
Councilor Alice Smart (Lab Armley) condemned the incident. She said: “I am heartbroken to see the terrible damage done to the new playground at Armley Park. We have requested that the site be cleaned immediately so that families can use it safely.
“If anyone has any information on who is responsible for this damage, please contact the police.”
She added that the immediate plan was to clean up the area and make it safe for children.
The incident was also condemned on social media.
“Heartbreaking. So many people have worked so hard for so many years to get the playground ungraded and then idiots come and rob the kids and the community of a great resource within hours,” a resident said. local.
Another added: “Terrible to see. We went in the summer and it was great to see a new playground for the community in #Armley. I hope it will get better soon.
“Terrible. It took years and years to build. All that dedication and effort,” said another.
The new park replaced the dilapidated old playground earlier this year. It includes swings and a zipline among a set of new equipment. There are also plans for a second and third phase of the playground.
The volunteers formed the group Friends in 2016 with the aim of making Armley Park and Gotts Park a more fun, interesting, playful, docile, safe, active, inspiring, creative and community space for the people of Armley and the surroundings.