WINFIELD, Kansas – The Island Park Playground was built in 2004 by more than 1,700 volunteers in Winfield.
After two arson fires since it was built, the community has vowed to put the pieces back together.
Dean Kennedy serves on the playground committee for Island Park.
Kennedy was involved in the original building of the 2,000 square foot playground 10 years ago.
He was devastated to see it burn to the ground twice.
“The one voice that came immediately was we will rebuild, it will come back.”
That statement is becoming a reality.
Contractors have started the preliminary work on rebuilding the playground.
A project that won’t need any taxpayer money or donations.
“We had it insured for replacement, so we have the money available for rebuilding it back.” said Mark Olney, Winfield Director of Parks.
The insurance will cover just over $600,000 in replacement costs.
It is more than double what the rotary club raised to build it originally.
Olney says some of the money will go towards using different materials, like concrete and limestone that will hopefully protect the structure from falling victim to another fire.
“Everything that went into the design was taken into account to keep it from happening again and using Class A rated fire materials.”
Winfield is also considering a surveillance system.
The changes are music to the ears of community members, like Kennedy, who say it is critically important that one of the most popular places in Cowley County is brought back.
“It identifies our community, and it’s a bonding point for people who come here.”
Olney says due to the fact that two fires have already taken place here, this time around they won’t be able to insure the playground for replacement.
So, he and the rest of the community are hopeful the changes will keep it from being destroyed once again.