An iconic Ely adventure playground, recently plagued by litter and vandalism, has gone forever.
However, the Ministry of Defence told Spotted in Ely that the decision to remove the playground, known locally as the American Park, was unrelated to its recent troubles.
On April 27 the play equipment was dismantled from its site off Heaton Drive and trucked off. Spotted in Ely understands it may have been reinstalled at a Suffolk school.
Today an MOD spokesperson told Spotted in Ely: “The service family accommodation at Ely has been declared surplus to future requirements, therefore the play equipment has been removed.”
The US Air Force had been due to leave RAF Mildenhall by 2022 but this has now been extended to at least 2024.
Many of the buildings that used to house American service personnel and their families, near the Princess of Wales Hospital in Ely, have been lying empty for years.
The American Park was initially built for American military families in the area but became very popular amongst local families too.
In 2016 it was temporarily closed due to major vandalism but eventually reopened after costly work to repair it.
In October 2017 residents reported seeing a group of teens urinating on slides, having sex in the park and trashing equipment.
The behaviour of a minority of youth meant many others were scared to use the park – one of the few playgrounds in Ely catering for older children.
One resident said she saw the group vandalising fences, dumping litter and intimidating other children.
“If they behave like this with families present, I can only imagine what they do when we’re not there. When the boys took to the main apparatus it just became too dangerous, not to mention intimidating for our kids and every single family left at that point, taking refuge in the toddler park.”
Shortly after it was closed again – as it turned out, for the last time.