Suffolk Downs Racetrack and the Fields Family Foundation, the charitable foundation founded by the track’s principal owner Richard Fields, have pledged $40,000 in a joint contribution to use the track’s equipment and labor from track employees to restore the play structure at the Bradley School on Beachview Road in East Boston that was damaged by arson over a week ago.
On Monday, longtime Suffolk Downs’ Track Superintendent Steve Pini and members of the Suffolk Downs maintenance department visited the school to assess the damage and the scope of the repair project. Working in conjunction with the Boston School Department, Suffolk Downs’ maintenance employees will begin clearing the damaged equipment and preparing the site for the installation of a new play structure.
“When we heard about what happened, we wanted to help,” said Suffolk Downs COO Chip Tuttle. “Suffolk Downs has a 76-year history of being a good neighbor in this community. It is part of the track’s legacy that we hope to preserve and build upon as we move forward.”
Bradley Principal Anne Kelly said the gesture was met with excitement by the school staff and families.
“So much work went into designing and building our play areas and in obtaining the grant funding for them,” said Kelly in a statement. “We’re very grateful that Richard Fields and our neighbors from Suffolk Downs have made this commitment.”
Authorities are seeking a single arsonist or group of arsonists that lit the brand-new playground at the Bradley Boston Police and the Boston Fire Department investigated the cause of the fire and believe it was the result of arson. Now authorities are scouring the neighborhood in search of those responsible.
The construction of the playground at the school was the result of years of planning and fundraising through the city’s schoolyard initiative. At the beginning of the school year last year, the Mayor, residents, school staff and students cut the ribbon on the schoolyard and celebrated the competition of the hard work of all involved.
Since the beginning of the school year trouble began brewing at the schoolyard. First, the school’s dumpster was torched a few times forcing the school to move its location. Then vandals began setting fire to school’s trash barrels and breaking the flood lights that illuminate the yard during non-school hours. Then, last week the vandals became more brazen and set fire to a slide at the playground.
“I think last weekend they came to finish the job,” said Kelley.
The blaze completely destroyed the playground’s jungle gym and nearly set fire to surrounding trees.
The blaze was so intense that it completely melted a slide, climbing frame, platform, and the rubber foam under the jungle gym. Flames were so high that the trees above the jungle gym caught fire.
Kelley said the Boston Police and Fire Department are taking the case of arson at the school very seriously and have agreed to her request of extra patrols around the school at night.