Mt. View's playground repair may take until 2019
The Anchorage Fire Department was called to Mountain View Elementary around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday to respond to a fire at one of the schools two playgrounds.
"The fire department's had a lot of practice with us over the past few years," ASD Senior Director of Maintenance and Operations Darin Hargraves said. "We've had about four instances over about the last 18 months."
Most recently, arson was the source behind the estimated quarter-of-a-million dollars in damage to the Gladys Wood Elementary playground in early June. In early July, Alpenglow Elementary was attacked by a vandal that caused an estimated $100,000 worth of damage to the building and the rooms inside.
"It's unfortunate that people don’t realize that when you damage school district buildings or our property, that you probably will be caught on camera," Hargraves said. "Chances are we are going to have the person who did this on camera and we'll be saying hello soon."
Hargraves says they have usable footage and pictures of the people responsible for the Mountain View Elementary School fire.
"It appears to be children," Hargraves said. "We can see their faces. We really want to stress to parents to talk with their kids about this. I talk with my kids. It's not a smart decision to burn down a playground. We recently had a break in at Alpenglow and the next day we knew who it was."
All of the Anchorage School District's buildings and properties are under heavy surveillance.
"Just here at Mountain View, we have three cameras on the area," Hargraves said. "The kids need to know the consequences and the parents need to know where their kids are. The effects have long-term ramifications for the whole family. The kids need to know their actions will have a huge impact on their family and their community. The family then gets looked at differently and it could turn into a big financial burden."
The Anchorage School District carries insurance on itself for $100,000.
"That's our deductible," Hargraves said. "Anything under that the district pays for out of pocket. Anything more goes to insurance. When things like this happen we assess, track costs and talk with our attorneys."
Mountain View Elementary has two playgrounds.
"We have the big kid playground and the little kid playground," Mountain View Principal Chris Woodward said. "The big kid playground is on the east side of the building. The little kid playground is on the west side of the building-- and that's the one that suffered the damage."
Students will have the use of the big kid playground and portions of the little kid playground that survived the fire. Woodward said the thing he's most concerned about is the pre-schoolers.
"The playground was fully inspected for pre-school use," Woodward said. "It was fully safe and functional for pre-school use. Those kids we really need to get out and playing on stuff. The bigger kids can play on either playground."
It could take up to a full year for the playground to be completely repaired.
"By the time we figure out what we need and how we are going to pay for it and get it ordered and shipped up here and then get it installed," Woodward said, "it'll probably be at least a year. It'll be a little bit of an inconvenience and it is certainly disappointing that it happened, but it's not going to compromise the education or the physical activity of the kids. I've got a bunch of really great people who work for me and we'll figure out good stuff for them to do with or without playground equipment. I'm just glad no one was hurt. Stuff we can replace, people we can’t."
The Anchorage Police Department and Anchorage Fire Department are assisting in the investigation of the fire and who is involved.
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