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Community Park’s playground stands almost empty Wednesday after the city removed equipment that was damaged by arson earlier this month.

Savage’s Parks & Recreation Department had been dreaming up a state-of-the-art accessible playground long before a suspected arson fire destroyed one of the city’s existing playgrounds earlier this month.

Public Works Director Greg Boatman said Savage Community Park’s playground will be replaced, but it’s too early to say whether it’ll become the “destination” playground they’ve envisioned.

The June 16 fire destroyed around two-thirds of Community Park’s playground, Boatman said. City staff expect to find out how much money they’ll receive through insurance within a week or so.

No arrests have been made in connection with the arson.

With final plans for replacing the playground undecided, the city demolished the damaged pieces of equipment and will remove the playground surfacing and wood chips but leave the undamaged pieces of playground equipment standing.

“One option is to replace what we lost with what we had,” Boatman said, adding there are some concerns about color-matching and having pieces of equipment age differently. “Sometimes it’s better to start fresh.”

If a new playground is built, “the sky is really the limit,” he said.

That’s where the city’s #InThisTogether yard signs might come into play.

The city began selling the signs for $10 at Savage’s two liquor stores the week before Memorial Day to boost morale during the COVID-19 pandemic. Boatman said $6 of every purchase pays for the sign itself, and the $4 left go toward the previously planned playground project.

Boatman said the city’s looking to build a “sensational, all-inclusive, destination-type playground,” that would be accessible to residents of all ages and abilities while also bringing more people to Savage.

As of Wednesday, 99 signs had been sold.

While the funds could ultimately go towards Community Park’s new playground — if such a playground is built there — the city hasn’t set up any fundraiser specifically for Community Park.

“It’s not that we won’t accept donations, it’s that we aren’t asking for donations,” Boatman said, adding anyone interested in contributing to Savage parks can always call the department and learn more. Its number is 952-224-3420.

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