Opelika community looks forward to new playground after December fire

Opelika community looks forward to new playground after December fire

OPELIKA, AL (WTVM) - Opelika mother Brittany Mennifee couldn't believe the flames that ignited in her backyard last month after a teenager set fire to the playground that sits in the center of the public housing neighborhood.

"I thought our apartment was going to set on fire, it was just that close," says Mennifee.

Now she and her children are ecstatic the rebuilding process for the playground has begun.

"It's going to mean a whole lot, especially when it gets warm, they will have something to do when they get out of school," explains Mennifee.

"The community deserves to have the equipment," explains the Executive Director of the Opelika Housing Authority, Akinola Popoola.

For the past month, the Opelika Housing Authority has been drawing plans and putting out bids to replace the $50,000 worth of damage done.

Popoola says this isn't the first time someone has tried to set fire to the playground, but it is a priority for children to have a place to play out of harm's way.

"We want to make sure the children are able to play in a safe place in the community and we want to share that we do have cameras that are watching our children," says Popoola.

Parents we talked to say they had to let their children open Christmas presents early this year since they had nowhere to play.

Now in just a couple of days, there will be a new place to spend their time and make many new memories.

"We are ready for the kids to have something to do because I know they're tired of sitting in the house," explains Mennifee.

"The most important thing for us is the joy we see in the children's faces when they come in and I've been in the business 30 years and this is the first time I've been presented with a thank you card," explains Popoola.

Construction is set to be completed next week.

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