BUFFALO GROVE, Ill. (STMW) – Arson is to blame for a Friday night fire that destroyed a playground in northwest suburban Buffalo Grove, causing more than $100,000 in damages.

The playground at the Alcott Center in Buffalo Grove was set on fire at 8:20 p.m. Friday, a release from the Buffalo Grove Park District said.

The playground at the center, 530 Bernard Drive, was completely destroyed, and the estimated cost to replace it could exceed $100,000, according to the release. The playground was installed in 2007 and featured a state-of-the art-soft rubber surface underneath to minimize the risk of injury, as well as ramps and other features that made it completely accessible for children with physical disabilities.

Video surveillance confirmed that at least two people were in the area of the Alcott playground at the time that the fire was set, and those people appear to be middle school or high school age.

“The park district deals with different forms of vandalism all the time, but this incident is extreme,” said Mike Terson, the district’s public relations and marketing manager, in the release.

“I don’t just work here, we live 3 blocks away from the Alcott Center, and I’ve been bringing my 6-year-old son to this playground since it was built,” Terson added.

“I can’t even express how much it saddens me to see such a wonderful amenity in our neighborhood, that thousands of children enjoy, just senselessly destroyed because some young people have complete disregard for their community or don’t know how to channel their anger in a less devastating way,” Terson said.

The playground will remain closed throughout the winter until the park district is able to replace it in the spring, the release said.

–Pioneer Press, via the Sun-Times Media Wire

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