The spiral slide in Stephan Gray Park, near Shadowbrook Drive and Highway 59, is a scorched piece of twisted, blue-gray plastic.
It's the victim of vandalism.
The slide was burned down by vandals a few weeks ago, according to Stan Murdock, director of Public Works operations.
Vandalism, in the form of burned slides, in various parks occurs at least three to four times a year, Murdock said. A couple of years ago, Stephen Leonard, Old Fahrens and Rahilly parks were victims of burned slides at their playgrounds. The rest of the vandalism cases dealt with graffiti.
That can cost the city at least $40,000 to $50,000 a year in damages, including labor and parts, said Mike Miller, tax services manager in the public works department. He said the slide at Stephan Gray Park could cost up to $9,000 in repairs.
"We need to fix it and let the public know," he said. The city's general fund, where most of the discretionary money comes from, includes money for the parks budget. The fund has taken a hit in recent years because of budget cuts.
This year, $22,000 was set aside in the parks budget to buy new parts and labor for cases like this, Murdock said. "We just don't have the dollars to do this anymore," he said.
Miller stressed that people seeing vandalism in the parks should let the police department know. "It's affecting the community, the kids who have the opportunity to come to the playground," he said. "Vandals are taking advantage of the amenities the city is paying for."
Murdock agreed, saying people needed to pay attention to the parks in their neighborhoods. "It's frustrating," Murdock said. "People have to watch out for their community."
Stephan Gray Park was named in memory of the Merced police officer who was killed in the line of duty in 2004.
The park was a product of the community coming together and donating time and materials to establish the park, Murdock said. "It was really a partnership of the community," he said.
He said people can report graffiti or vandalism to the city's public works department, at (209) 385-6800.
What's the problem: Vandalism across city parks, including Stephan Gray Park.
Who's responsible: Vandals.
What's being done: The city repairs the vandalism, but the community needs to be vigilant and report vandalism to the police department.