Crews began installing new playground equipment at Armstrong Park on Thursday to replace structures that were destroyed by arson earlier this year.

The contractor, Central Coast Playgrounds, installed support poles and began hanging bridges and other structures children can play on once the structure is complete.

“Weather permitting, the job should be completed before Christmas,” said Mark van de Kamp, city of Santa Maria spokesman.

The replacement equipment was custom-built, with the cost covered by community donations and federal Community Development Block Grant funds. The replacement play structure project cost about $100,000.

At about 1 a.m. March 27, Santa Maria firefighters were called to the park after receiving multiple calls that the playground was on fire.

The blaze destroyed the park’s large play structure designed for 5- to 12-year-olds. The steel-framed structure measured about 20 feet wide by 60 feet long. It had plastic coating on its decks, walkways, bridges and slides, and also had stairs, ladders and a climbing wall.

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The playground, the biggest in the city, is used by residents from the surrounding neighborhoods and throughout the community, city parks officials said.

Santa Maria Police Chief Phil Hansen said his department is working with the Santa Maria Fire Department’s Arson Investigation Division on the investigation, which is ongoing.

Logan B. Anderson covers city government in Santa Maria for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter: @LoganBAnderson.

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City Government Reporter