McKinley Park playground fire.
SACRAMENTO, CA - Back in July, an arsonist torched the beloved McKinley Park in East Sacramento destroying half of the wooden playground structure.
Many community members vowed to rebuild the park, setting up fundraisers and gathering donations from local businesses to amass thousands of dollars towards the the rebuilding costs. But the amount collected thus far make up a small fraction of the estimated budget of nearly $700,000 to rebuild the playground.
When the first fire engines arrived at McKinley Park on an early Saturday morning in July, flames were climbing 50 to 60 feet in the air. It took firefighters hours to put out the fire.That memory still troubles parents like Barbara Bamberger.
"We actually came here to play and saw it first hand, the next day. It's unbelievable," said Bamberger.
Many people are determined to rebuild the community playground. The estimated budget: $686,379.
"We think that's reasonable," said Councilman Steve Cohn. He said that projected budget figure is to rebuild, replace, and update much of the park, not just the portion damaged by arson.
Cohn has has spearheaded many of the fundraisers. He says rebuilding a community playground like the one at McKinley Park typically costs more than a million dollars.
On Twitter, Di Richardson told News10 "I think that's nuts!"
Facebook friends posted: "A 4,000 sq ft home could be built for less than that!!" said LisaMeylor.
Molly Fling posted: "That's way toooooooooo much!!!!! How can it possibly cost that much??"
The councilman explained that it's because it's a custom-built community playground with special art and features.
Rather than a pre-fab playground, it is a playground tailored to fit the needs and wants of the local community. It's designed with significant input from children and their parents. There only a few such "community-build" playgrounds in the Sacramento region. They include Southside Park and another community park in the Natomas area.
Parent Pippa Browdy said the park is an investment in the future.
"I think it's well worth every penny," said Browdy.
When the McKinley Park playground was built in 1994, it cost nearly $400,000, according to Cohn. He said that building such a playground nowadays would cost about $1.5 million.
But it won't, said Cohn, because of the donated materials, an anticipated army of hundreds of volunteers, and major fundraising efforts.
Cohn offered a rough breakdown for that $690,000 budget.
- $323,000 will come from insurance
- $100,000 from donations already raised by the public
- $240,000 will come from city park funds
For Barbara Bamberger, a single mother, who goes to McKinley Park with her son three times a week, the park represents so much more.
"It's a beautiful park. People come from all over specifically to come here," said Bamberger.
Tuesday night, the Sacramento City Council will consider setting up a Capital Improvement Program for the rebuild for $686,379.
The next playground fundraiser, hosted by Downtown Ford, is this Thursday, Nov. 15 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
For more information on the Rebuild McKinley Park Playground effort, here's the website.
By Suzanne Phan, Suzanne Phan@news10.net