£75,000 needed to mend play park in village after attack by arsonists
More than £70,000 is needed to repair a Co Down play park that was almost completely destroyed by arsonists.
The cash may have to come from the public purse if insurers do not pay out to replace the equipment damaged, Newry, Mourne and Down Council has warned.
The park was opened less than a year ago in Crossgar at a cost of £130,000. Arsonists vandalised the park in the early hours of July 12 by setting a car tyre alight within a tube slide on the main climbing frame.
A damage inspection by council officers has found that it will cost an estimated £75,000 to replace destroyed play equipment and seating. The council is hopeful that the cost will be recovered from insurers, but warned that if the insurance claim is unsuccessful the cash would have to come from council resources.
"I am hoping that some form of settlement can be reached so that we can get this park fully functioning again," said local Independent councillor Terry Andrews.
"What happened was completely wrong and there has been widespread anger in the local area about it.
"A lot of people in the locality worked tirelessly to get the provision in place and then it was vandalised even before it was officially opened," he added. "There was a centrepiece of the play area which was a high tower, a big slide, which was hugely popular.
"A lot of children enjoyed using it and it has been reduced to a shell. The damaged part of the park has been cordoned off so that there is still some functioning play area but we need to get the park fully up and running again," said Mr Andrews.
It will be several months before reconstruction work is completed.
So far no arrests have been made in relation to the arson attack.
Earlier this month a second play park in the neighbouring town of Killyleagh was targeted by arsonists.