The police and fire departments are investigating attempted arson at Adair-Kennedy Memorial Park, making it the second time the park has been targeted in the past 30 days.
The fire department said in a release they responded to an arson at the field, next to Floyd Dryden Middle School, at about 9 a.m. Monday. Upon arrival, firefighters discovered a small pile of burned debris outside of the concession stand building near the field.
No building damage was reported, and the case is being investigated by the Juneau Police Department and by fire marshals.
Arsonists hit the park last month and caused an estimated $20,000 in damage when they burned a tractor, trailer and other materials owned by a company that is replacing the turf field. The flames spared the field itself, but delayed the $1 million turf replacement project about a week.
Catherine Wilkins, the project manager for the City and Borough of Juneau who is overseeing the project, said the project will likely be complete by the end of next week, although it depends on the weather. That’s just in time for the Juneau-Douglas High School Crimson Bears football team practice schedule, which begins at the end of this month, she said. The turf field is the Bears’ home field.
A suspected arson at the park last fall caused about $100,000 of damage when it scorched the field. The incident served as a catalyst to re-do the aged field, which had already seen 10 full years. Seven or eight years is the average lifespan for a turf field, Wilkins said.
The park has proved to be a common target for arsonists and vandals. Capital City Fire and Rescue Chief Richard Etheridge previously told the Empire that could be because it is a familiar location for juveniles and possibly because there are trails nearby that make for a quick escape route.
Juneau Park and Recreation Department Director Brent Fischer guessed it’s because the field and surrounding area is situated away from vehicle and foot traffic and away from supervision.
Fischer said the city installed surveillance cameras in the area late last year to aid in catching the vandals and arsonists. He says it’s hard to tell whether the cameras are an effective investigation tool since all the related cases are still under investigation.