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New playground equipment coming soon for Aberdeen's Victory Park

Users of Aberdeen's Victory Park should have a new playground – to replace equipment destroyed by an arson fire in August – by the end of this month, according to the city manager.

"The playground should be up and operational by the end of the month, very pleased with that," City Manager Randy Robertson said during a City Council meeting Monday evening.

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Robertson said there will be a water source, a drinking fountain, installed nearby "as an added bonus." He said the water fountain will be a springtime initiative.

Four juveniles have been charged in connection with a fire on Aug. 18 that extensively damaged a playground at Aberdeen's Victory Street Park.

Members of the community have donated about $5,000 to help with restoration costs. The fire, which consumed the plastic playground and surrounding rubberized mulch, caused an estimated $80,000 to $120,000 worth of damage. City officials said during the summer that insurance is expected to cover most of the restoration costs.

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Four juveniles were charged for their involvement in setting the fire.

"I'd like to go on record thanking everyone" who donated, Robertson said, noting the contributions will support the costs of the water fountain.

Robertson said a ceremony will be scheduled to celebrate the restoration of the playground. Phyllis Grover, director of planning and community development for the city, is pursuing signage for the park to thank donors, Robinson said.

Police are developing leads about suspects in an arson fire that caused more than $80,000 worth of damage to the Victory Park playground in Aberdeen last week, as the community and city officials make plans to rebuild. Donations are being received and much of the damage may be covered by insurance, mayor says.

The news about Victory Park was detailed in this week's edition of the city's electronic newsletter, The Aberdeen Advocate.

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The Aberdeen Advocate is a weekly newsletter distributed via email to residents. The third installment was published Monday.

"It seems to be off to a fairly good start," Robertson said after the council meeting. City officials announced over the summer they would restart an e-newsletter. There was once during the prior city administration of mayor Michael Bennett before his loss to Patrick McGrady in last year's city election.

More than 200 people have subscribed to the newsletter so far, according to Robertson. The publication is produced in house through the city manager's office.

Playground equipment in Victory Street Park in east Aberdeen was heavily damaged by fire Thursday afternoon in an incident investigators have described as arson.

This week's edition includes reminders of public meetings and events, such as Friday's Veterans Day ceremony in Veterans Memorial Park, tips to determine if your toilet is leaking water, openings on the city workforce and on public boards and commissions, plus the news that the replacement playground equipment has been delivered and contracts have been issued to remove the destroyed equipment.

Robertson said officials in a number of municipalities around the country publish similar newsletters. He put out an email publication when he was the city manger in Cordova, Alaska, his previous employer.

He said electronic newsletters is one of the "multimodal" methods Aberdeen officials use to communicate with residents, along with robocalls and social media. Robertson said a print version of the newsletter could be published in the future for residents who do not use electronic media.

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