The arson fire early Thursday morning at Lake Meridian Park won’t stop the Fourth of July Splash event.
“The show must go on,” Kent Mayor Dana Ralph said in a city media release. “We are disappointed that someone would deliberately destroy a park structure, but we aren’t going to let one person ruin our fun. Thousands of residents look forward to the Fourth of July Splash each year, and we are going to make sure it is a fabulous day for local families to celebrate our country’s independence.”
The fire severely damaged the newly remodeled restroom/lifeguard building and drinking fountains at the park, 14800 SE 272nd St. The city recently spent about $407,000 to remodel and upgrade the restrooms in the main building. The city used state grant money to pay for the project, funds left over from the installation last year of a new swimming and fishing dock at the park.
The restroom needed updating to improve function and aesthetics and to comply with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements, according to city documents. Crews installed new doors and restroom fixtures, added new bathroom stalls, new outdoor showers and converted the old concession stand to a new family restroom.
Despite the damage, Kent Parks staff is working hard to get the park ready for Fourth of July Splash, a popular summer celebration.
For the time being, Lake Meridian Park will not have lifeguards on staff, and the city will bring in portable restrooms to temporarily replace the park’s restrooms for Splash and the summer concert series which begins July 12.
The city does not have an estimate for when services will be fully restored.
Thanks to the quick action of Puget Sound Fire, no other damage was done to the park. The beach, docks, boat launch, shelters and playground are all intact and fully operational.
Puget Sound Fire confirmed the cause of the fire was arson, and it is investigating the incident.
The Fourth of July Splash begins at noon Wednesday, and will include food booths, bouncy houses, giant Jenga, games, photo booth, pie-eating contest, T-Bird puck and shoot, Republic Services’ recycling activity, and live music and entertainment. The day ends with a spectacular fireworks finale around 10:15 p.m.