Vandals set popular Lee’s Summit playground on fire, leaving neighbors irked

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LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — People in one Jackson County neighborhood are burning mad.

Police in Lee’s Summit said vandals set fire to a popular public playground, leveling it to ash and soot. City leaders tell FOX4 it could cost thousands of dollars to replace.

Neighbors off Anderson Drive said the flames shot up high into the Tuesday night sky. People living near Velie Park want to know who burned down their popular wood and plastic playground, which is maintained by Lee’s Summit Parks and Rec.

When firefighters doused the blaze, they discovered graffiti left by vandals, and the often-used playset burned beyond rescue.

Nearby homeowners watched from a distance, including Gary Crenshaw. He and his wife said they heard the commotion not far from their home, prompting them to call 911.

Crenshaw said he spotted three young men running from the fire. Neighbors also told police they spotted a small red car in the parking lot just before the fire. 

“What do you get out of that?” Crenshaw asked rhetorically. “I’d go after them. I don’t know because this is a good place.”

Families who use the park regularly are now without a place to play, and it will be expensive for the city to replace.

Joe Snook, Lee’s Summit’s administrator for the Department of Parks and Recreation, said it will cost between $20,000-50,000 to build something comparable.

The final charred pieces of the playset were removed early Thursday morning.

“We don’t have any magic money sitting around to replace things like this. We’re going to have to make some adjustments, but we’re going to get it done,” Snook said Thursday.

Coincidentally, this isn’t the first playground to be burned in Lee’s Summit.

Snook said the same thing happened to a different wood and plastic playset owned by his department 10 years ago. That one sat in Southlea Park, and has long since been replaced.

If you know who’s to blame for Tuesday night’s blaze, please call the Lee’s Summit Police Department at (816) 969-7390.

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