Arson suspected in fire that destroyed Palm Bay playground

Park remembered for bringing neighborhood together, safe place for kids to play

By James Sparvero - Reporter

PALM BAY, Fla. - Decades of neighborhood memories -- families together, children playing -- were tarnished by someone the city of Palm Bay suspects intentionally set a playground on fire. 

A man who lives on Bianca Drive near Twin Lakes Park said that at that 3 a.m. Thursday, he could feel the heat from inside his house.

He soon felt heartbreak for his neighbors. 

"I'm surprised at that. We were hurt and stunned," Derrick Williams said.

Williams has lived in this northeast corner of Palm Bay for 30 years.

"Yeah, it's families, parties," he recalled how the neighborhood used the park. "I had kids here myself, grandkids that throw parties out there. It was depressing because in our neighborhood, you don't think things like that would happen." 

The city's Parks and Recreation Department bulldozed the damaged playground equipment Thursday. 

Neighbor Pat Dunne said now the children don't have anywhere to go and play.

"It's a shame. All the neighborhood kids come and hang out here. It's perfect for us because we can all see our kids at all times," Dunne said.

Fire investigators Thursday said no suspects have been identified.

Parks and Recreation Department workers said they're going to continue clearing the debris into Friday.

A worker said he wasn't sure if the park would be rebuilt.

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