Playground equipment in a popular Whanganui suburban park has been vandalised, causing about $90,000 of damage.
Overnight on Wednesday a modular piece of play equipment at Lorenzdale Park in Swiss Ave, Gonville, was set alight, destroying part of the equipment.
"The double plastic slide is well and truly melted, the decking is damaged and the plastic climbing wall," Whanganui District Council senior parks manager Wendy Bainbridge said.
"The safety surfacing, which is synthetic, is also damaged. They have tried to set fire to the single slide as well.
"Our parks officer has been on site with an equipment provider to try to gauge the cost. It's hard to repair so the likely cost is about $60,000 and the matting is possibly about $30,000. Playgrounds aren't cheap.
"It's really disappointing that this has happened. The playground equipment is now about 18 years old but it was still in pretty good nick. The park was really dilapidated before we replaced the playground, and the community at that time was quite excited about having a new playground area.
"We recently put in a concrete path from the road and we put in a drinking fountain last year and seats."
All aspects of the park, which also has swings and a basketball court, were well-used and it was in an area with "quite a young demographic", Bainbridge said.
"It's a good community focal point. It used to be quite a focus for the Stone Soup gatherings."
A young mother who went to the park with her children about 8.30am yesterday , when the parks officer was inspecting the damage, was "quite devastated and disappointed" at the vandalism.
Bainbridge said the council regularly dealt with vandalism in its parks. For example, last weekend a urinal was ripped off the wall at a Virginia Lake toilet facility.
"We haven't had anything quite this bad for a while though," she said.
"It's so disappointing as it affects so many people, being a playground. I don't think people realise how much that sort of equipment costs."
The council has informed the police but so far no-one has come forward with any information, Bainbridge said.