Local nonprofit launches drive to rebuild West Long Beach playground that was burned down

A local nonprofit launched an online donation drive on Wednesday to gather the money needed to rebuild a playground at Admiral Kidd Park that was burned down in West Long Beach this summer.

Partners of Parks, an organization that supports the city’s Parks, Recreation and Marine programs, set a goal of raising $1 million, since the cost of rebuilding ranges between $750,000 and $1 million, Partners of Parks Executive Director Trinka Rowsell said.

After having a conversation with the city parks and marine department’s director, Rowsell learned that the playground is not covered by a warranty, and the city’s deductible insurance cost is greater than the cost of the playground.

On July 18, firefighters responded to a blaze at the park and found the playground melted by flames. Other playground equipment for younger ages and the swings was undamaged.

“It only hurts the kids, and the parents to have that experience,” Partners of Parks assistant director Randy Zarn said.

A Long Beach Fire Department spokesman was not immediately available to provide a status of the department’s investigation into the fire’s cause. In July, a fire department spokesman said that officials didn’t know what caused the fire or whether it was intentional.

Since then, the playground debris has been cleaned up. “Other than swings, there’s not really a great reason for the kids to go to the park because there’s nothing to do there,” said Rowsell.

Tiara James, 8, and Ciara James, 7, swing on what’s left of a burned playground at Admiral Kidd Park in West Long Beach on Thursday, July 29, 2021. Photo by Crystal Niebla.

“They already don’t have a ton of green space,” she added.

The wheelchair-accessible playground was constructed in 2011 and designed for children ages 5 to 12.

Rowsell said that Partners of Parks plans to meet in person with larger donors and will apply for grants, such as those offered by the Port of Long Beach.

“I think it’s an opportunity for businesses and corporations to sort of rally around and help bring…that playground back to the kids,” she said.

“Long Beach is 460,000 people,” Rowsell said. “If every single person gave just $2, we can complete this million-dollar fundraiser overnight.”

Anyone interested in making a donation, click here. The donation drive will end on Dec. 1.

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Crystal Niebla is the West Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of her grant-funded position with the Post. If you want to support Crystal's work, you can donate to her Report For America position at lbpost.com/support.
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