LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC-TV) – More than 24 hours after an arson fire destroyed much of the Shiver Me Timbers Millennium Park in downtown Lake Charles, City officials are working on plans to move forward and rebuild.
The process will start on Tuesday when Lake Charles Mayor Randy Roach meets with citizens who were instrumental in developing the park in 2000.
"This is a place that our community has embraced," said Kay Barnett, the former coordinator for the Millennium Park project and one of the individuals who will attend the meeting with Roach. "I think everybody will still feel the same way as we move forward with trying to rebuild it."
The park was insured and city officials say the insurance should cover debris removal and at least some of the rebuilding. The insurance plan carries a $100,000 deductible.
Meanwhile, the search continues for the person or persons responsible for the fire. But so far, authorities have few leads. A report from one city official that there were surveillance cameras located throughout the park turned out to be false. While there are cameras, none of them were in the vicinity of the fire or park.
The dream of KPLC anchor/reporter Pam Dixon, the park opened in September 2000. The park was built over a ten day period by more than 5,500 volunteers working 12 hours each day. Local businesses donated money and supplies. The 20,000 sq. foot park featured a tower, train, plane, tree house and a multi-story Louisiana Hurricane slide.
"It's really heartbreaking to see what happened here because this wasn't just a playground that was destroyed," said Dixon. "Millennium Park actually represented the heart and soul and the generosity of the people in this area."
City officials are asking for citizen input in rebuilding the park. Those interested can contact the Mayor's Action Line by phone at 491-1346 or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Anyone with information about the cause of the fire is urged to call the Lake Charles Police Department at 491-1311; the Lake Charles Fire Prevention office at 491-1368 or the Louisiana Fire Marshal's office at 1-800-256-5452.