A new play area to replace a burnt down youth centre the St Giles area of Lincoln has been officially opened – five years to the day since the tragic fire.
Police launched an arson investigation after a fire ripped through the St Giles Youth Centre in September 2016. The centre was used to provide a number of services to the local community but remained vacant after the fire.
City of Lincoln Council invited people to have their say on designs before final plans for the play park were submitted. The grand opening was delayed twice due to coronavirus restrictions before finally being held on Thursday, September 2.
The official opening at the St Giles Children’s Play Area in Swift Gardens marked the five-year anniversary of the arson attack. The play park is celebrating its first year of operation after its completion by contractor Wicksteed.
It includes a zip line, swings, slides, and other equipment for all ages.
A St Giles community lead on the project, Katie Atkinson organised a naming competition with local children, with the winning name for the play park announced on Thursday as Phoenix Park.
The new play area was funded by the county council, although the project cost has not been publicly disclosed.
Insurance monies weren’t enough to cover the cost of a rebuild, but an agreement was made for a transfer of land into city council ownership, and funds to cover the cost of equipment with a long-term maintenance budget.
Mayor of Lincoln Jackie Kirk told The Lincolnite: “It’s tremendous to see the site back in use, after a few years of hefty negotiations with Lincolnshire County Council over the future use of the site and land and agreeing on a sum of money, then a land transfer of ownership to the city [council] from county council.
“The City of Lincoln Council then enlisted a company to design and construct the play equipment, ensuring enough funds were set aside to maintain the play area, a community asset for St Giles and the surrounding area for years ahead.”
On Wednesday, September 1, a team of four, including Mayor Kirk, city council leader Ric Metcalfe and two local residents, spent two hours cleaning up all the litter and broken glass from the play park ready for Thursday’s grand opening event.