New Richmond school playground built in one day after suspicious fire

Posted at 1:59 PM, Nov 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-03 14:03:48-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Hundreds of volunteers assembled at G.H. Reid Elementary School in the city's Southside to build a new playground after a suspicious fire destroyed the equipment during the summer.

Investigators said the intentional fire started in the matting beneath the playground equipment in the back of the school at 1301 Whitehead Road in June. Since then, more than 750 students were limited in their play options.


Thursday, more than 225 volunteers from CarMax, Richmond Public Schools, and Communities In Schools of Richmond worked hours to build the new playground from the ground up.

RPS' Chief Operating Officer Thomas Kranz said the $125,000 worth of donated equipment comes when the district is facing a budget shortfall.

"This would've been a difficult project for Richmond Public School's to afford," said Kranz. "Even though we're insured, $100,000 is on us and it would've been difficult to come up with that money."


Kranz cited several projects across the district including multiple new HVAC systems and roof repairs at other schools that have eaten away at their capital budget.

The CarMax Foundation provided the majority of the funding for the playground through its national partnership with KaBOOM!, according to a press release.

Organizers said the playground is like no other in the country since the design was based on G.H. Reid student's drawings created at a special design event in September.


Volunteers started work on the playground around 8 a.m. and finished at 2 p.m. after a few days of prepping the site for construction.

"It's great when a community can come together after a tragic event like that and turn it around to make a happy event," said team leader Whitney Pinna.

There have been no arrests made in the June fire.

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