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Ayer’s Kiddie Junction Playground now closed to the public

Kiddie Junction at Pirone Park in Ayer.  SUN/Julia Malakie
Kiddie Junction at Pirone Park in Ayer. SUN/Julia Malakie

AYER — The popular Kiddie Junction Playground at Pirone Park is now closed to the public.

On Tuesday, the town’s licensed site professional notified the state Department of Environmental Protection of the playground’s arsenic contamination. The notification came as part of Ayer’s ongoing efforts to remediate the site and replace the playground structure.

Arsenic was first discovered in the playground’s wood structure and surrounding soil during a study in 2007. At the time, the playground was allowed to remain open on the condition adequate signs were installed to warn the public.

After the Tuesday notification, MassDEP told the state to close the playground due to the contamination. The town agreed, and as of Friday, the playground has been closed. A perimeter fence has also been installed.

In a statement posted online, the town said it had been informed the likelihood of health implications to due arsenic exposure is believed to be very low. The town advised concerned residents to contact their primary health-care provider.

The Ayer Parks Commission is working on a plan to replace the Kiddie Junction Playground, with an estimated timeline for construction in July.

The Sun previously reported a new Kiddie Junction Playground could be funded through the Community Preservation Act or with reimbursable grants through the Economic Development Office. At recent Capital Planning Committee meetings, Parks Director Jeff Thomas said a remediation and replacement project could cost $500,000.

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