Neighbourhood rallies to rebuild fire-wrecked playground
A neighbourhood rocked by a series of suspected arson attacks has staged a fight back – by rebuilding a playground destroyed in a fire.
The Pig’s Field play area, on Pembroke’s Bandroom Lane, was razed to the ground in a fire on Saturday, April 10.
The cost of the damage was estimated at $60,000.
But residents announced on Monday that they had formed a committee to raise funds to rebuild the playground, which had “devastated” the area.
Patrina Paynter, the spokeswoman for the group, said it had been “humbled” by local support.
She added: “It was devastating – especially for those who were involved with the original group who raised funds for the equipment – when all you could do was watch the equipment burning that night.
“The reaction of the community was initially one of outrage and sadness.
“However, the main community response has now turned to one of ’how can I help?’.
“We have been approached by organisations and companies in the community offering donations and support.”
Ms Paynter said: “The entire field is popular with the area residents – local children, local groups, a place to exercise or walk your dogs – it is the ’people’s field’, and the playground was the field highlight.”
The group was backed by Pembroke Parish Council, which has kicked off fundraising with a $2,000 donation.
The fire was the fifth suspicious blaze in the neighbourhood in less than a month.
Two derelict buildings and several vehicles were also damaged or destroyed in separate fire incidents and police have set up a task force to investigate.
Firefighters were called to another blaze on King Street, Hamilton, in the early hours of yesterday after a vehicle caught fire.
Detectives confirmed last Friday that someone had been arrested in connection with the playground fire and that further arrests were expected – although a link between all five fires could not be confirmed.
Patricka Ferguson, the council chairwoman, said: “As part of the Pembroke community, the Pembroke Parish Council condemns the arsonist attacks that have plagued the Pembroke community.
“We are in the midst of a pandemic. This is a time for us to come together, not cause more harm and chaos for the community.
“It was a heartless deed, made even more callous by the fact that there is no apparent reason behind it.”
The council has met Walter Roban, the constituency MP and home affairs minister, to discuss how further funds could be raised.
Council members appealed to “everyone to get on board and involved to prevent another incident from occurring”.
Mr Roban last week promised that the playground would be rebuilt “bigger and better than before”.
Mr Roban, who visited the playground after the attack, said it was “incredibly sad” that it had been destroyed.
He added: “Of course, we will rebuild and I am hopeful that we will do better than before.
“People in the community have already pledged to support this effort.
“I will be speaking to Public Works, the Department of Parks and others in the community on a plan of action.
“I also would appeal to anyone in the private sector who wants to contribute towards the rebuilding of the playground to contact me about assisting.
“Plans will be revealed soon to the community on how they can support the rebuilding effort.”
Anyone who can help with the rebuild should contact email@example.com