Children are free to use the new playground equipment at Victory Street Park in Aberdeen, nearly four months after four juveniles intentionally set a fire that destroyed the former playground.
"This is all brand, brand-new equipment, and it's beautiful," Mayor Patrick McGrady said Monday.
The new equipment was subject to a final city inspection Monday afternoon; once that was finished, local children were clear to use it.
"I encourage everybody who wants to play on it to play on it as soon as possible," McGrady said.
A ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony had been scheduled for noon Monday, with about 80 to 100 local children, along with city government, police and fire officials, in attendance.
The event was postponed, however, because of rainy and chilly weather, the mayor said.
Given the rain and the "very muddy" area around the playground, the dedication ceremony has been moved to the spring, Officer Jason Neidig, a spokesperson for the Aberdeen Police Department, stated in an email Monday morning.
The mayor stressed the playground is still open to the public, even though the opening ceremony was postponed.
"If anybody wants to go and play in the park, as of right now, they may," McGrady said.
City officials have said the Aug. 18 fire and closure of the playground was a devastating blow to the East Aberdeen community.
The four juveniles who set the fire faced punishment through the juvenile justice system, according to police.
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The loss of the playground equipment was estimated at more than $80,000.
The city's property and liability insurer, the Local Government Insurance Trust, covered everything except a $5,000 deductible, according to McGrady.
Donations poured in from the community after the fire. City Manager Randy Robertson, who estimated $5,500 to $6,000 had been donated, said the money will be used to build a water fountain in Victory Park.
Robertson expressed "a heartfelt thanks to everyone who gave," on behalf of city staff, the mayor and City Council.
City officials discussed with Aberdeen Proving Ground commanders after the fire the potential donation of used playground equipment from APG's Edgewood Area to replace the destroyed equipment, but city leaders determined it would be easier to purchase new equipment.
McGrady noted city staff would have had to dismantle the donated equipment on site, remove sections of the surrounding fence to get it out and then restore the fencing.
"It just made more sense to get a playground company to install a new playground," the mayor said.