Fire destroys popular Antioch park play structure


The structure was located inside Antioch City Park at the corner of A Street and 10th Street. It was part of a large community effort five years ago to rebuild the park. It was designed by the children of Antioch. For many years before that, it was the kind of place that parents would keep their kids away from. And now, thanks to an act of vandalism Monday night, it's time once again for kids to keep out.

Four-year-old Leilani Velez can only look through the yellow caution tape at the blackened and burned-out shell of the toddler playground at Antioch's City Park.

"This is terrible, I don't know, the kids got nowhere to play or anything," Antioch resident Steven Mello said.

One by one preschoolers and their parents came to survey the ruins of the structure, made with a resin material meant to be flame resistant. That's one reason why Antioch police say this definitely looks like arson.

Neighbor Stan Scott shot video on his cell phone just before Contra Costa firefighters put out the flames. The five-year-old structure is nearly a total loss.

"Very very upsetting that somebody would have so little regard for the pride of their community to do something like this," playground coordinator Wayne Steffen said.

Antioch resident Charmae Gage added, "This is not right. This is like, this is one of the best parks we have here in Antioch. It's sad because that's the little area he goes in and plays all the time."

Paula Knight says she's dumb-founded and horrified at what happened. She's with a community group called "Take Back Antioch." They've already set up a website to try to get volunteers and money to rebuild the tot lot, "We need to get this fixed," Knight said. "We need to show them, whoever did this, that we can get it done."

If there's anything good about this, it's that the city does have insurance on the structure and there's already a website set up to solicit volunteers and donations to rebuild it. Click here for donation information.

Antioch police have also set up an anonymous text tip line. To contact police anonymously, send a text message to 274637 with the word CRIMES in the message.

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