LUCEDALE, Miss. (WKRG) – Lucedale leaders say they’re working as hard as they can to replace playground equipment in the city’s park, but the results could be out of their control.

The board of aldermen began looking at replacing the aged equipment over the summer and contracted with a firm to do pre-engineering and design work. On December 8, the equipment was closed off. It was removed days later, replaced by a patch of mulch and barricades.

“It had just rusted out and become unsafe so we took it down,” said Alderman-At-Large Louis Valentine. “We hoped it would make it until we could get a replacement installed but it was just too old.”

The equipment was installed in 1995 with money from the city and donations from local businesses. Some newer pieces of equipment remain in Lucedale City Park.

City leaders will turn to donations again to fund new equipment, along with a portion set aside from its general fund. The proposed replacement, including leveling the ground, drainage work and sidewalks will cost about $458,000. A committee led by Ward 4 Alderman Al Jones is applying for private grants and soliciting donations.

Mayor Doug Lee and aldermen have also met with State Senator Dennis DeBar and State Representative Doug McLeod to try to secure an allocation during the current state legislative session.

The legislature could choose to fund the full request, a portion of it, or not at all in the annual appropriations bill, funding hundreds of projects across the state. Some past city and county requests, like the $1.6 million Scott Road rebuild, have been partially funded by state allocations divided over two or three years.

“Everything in government moves so slow, it can be aggravating,” Mayor Lee said. “We got our name in the hopper and trying to get it going from one way or the other. It’s a top priority for the city this year.”

When more funding is secured in the coming months, the board of aldermen will look at how to proceed to get the preparation work completed and some equipment up, even if it is incremental.

“Ideally, we’d like to take what money we’ve got and go ahead and start the groundwork hopefully this summer. That’s optimistic- whether it’ll happen or not, but I’m going to do all I can to see it through as quick as possible,” said Alderman Al Jones.

Any party interested in donating to the project can contact Jones or City Hall.