What happened to the playground? Parks battle playground vandals

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What happened to the playground? Parks battle playground vandals

By Craig Smith. CREATED Dec 16, 2013

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - When a KGUN9 viewer wanted to know why pieces of playground equipment were disappearing from a favorite park he asked KGUN 9 on your side to find out what's going on. 
You ask, we investigate. 
It seems like playgrounds are more like battlegrounds with Tucson Parks workers and neighborhood groups trying to protect the places children play, while hard-hearted vandals work to tear them apart.

The lake is the star at Lakeside Park but kids look forward to the playground too.
When they looked for the swings, they found just a rack where the swings used to be.

Mary Montes says, "We got the kids all built up to come to the park and, thought there was another park so we pulled around here, now there's no park here."
They couldn't play on the equipment on the west side of the park either but in this case it's because Tucson Parks workers were fixing what a vandal broke.
What happened at Lakeside, happens at parks all across Tucson. 

Pictures from the Parks Department show how hard vandals work to spoil the fun for little kids: jungle gyms and slides melted by arsonists---holes bashed into slides with a sledge hammer or big rock. 
Fixing all this is a big drain on tight budgets.    

Looking at part of a play set replaced after an arson Parks Department district administrator Jim Conroy looked at just the slid portion and said, "A piece of equipment like this slide behind us here, just this individual piece is probably in the three thousand dollar ballpark."
And if the piece is even made anymore, the play may stop for months while it's on order.

"And that's what frustrates people.  When a piece of equipment gets damaged like this we remove it for safety reasons and then we'll board it up for lack of better terms and at that point we have to order the equipment which could be a lead time of three or four months."

Conroy, says neighborhood groups are doing what they can to watch the playgrounds and says police want you to call if you see something suspicious at a park.
For Lakeside, parts are on order to get those swings swinging again.

You ask, we investigate.
If you have a problem and want us to get involved, just ask.
You can email us at news@ kgun9.com or call our 9 On Your Side line at 290-7726.

Craig Smith

Craig Smith

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Craig enjoys using innovative writing and visuals to make difficult stories easier to understand. As a newsroom manager at KGUN 9, Craig was part of the team that won three best newscast awards from Arizona Associated Press