PORTLAND -- Parents from a Portland school are holding a candlelight vigil Thursday for a condemned play structure slated for removal.

The 40-year-old play structure in Couch Park, at Northwest 20th Avenue, was closed Tuesday, after a study from an independent engineering firm detailed safety concerns. It's set to be removed at a later date.

Though the structure is heavily used by students from the adjacent Metropolitan Learning Center, the city said it can no longer be repaired and that there's currently no money to replace it.

The existing metal play structure and other play items in the park will remain, according to Portland Parks and Rec spokesman the Mark Ross.

The vigil will begin at 7 p.m. at the play structure. People will gather at 6:45 p.m., according to the MLC Parent/Teacher/Student Association President Lauren Nathe.

Parents at MLC expressed initial alarm when they learned the structure might be removed.

Background: Popular NWPortland play structure closed

MLC students and staff designed the original play structure, said PTSA board member Dulane Moran in a letter to Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz. We have serious concerns that decisions about the play structure will be made without notifying and engaging the MLC Community of parents, children, staff and...neighborhood community.

The city said the safety concerns meant they had to push on. But officials are open to the idea of replacing it eventually.

Building a new playground will require community involvement and input, Ross said. In the immediate future, it could require a fundraising campaign since funds for a new structure are not available.

Nathe said the vigil was organized by the association to give the MLC and neighboring community the opportunity to recognize and acknowledge the tremendous loss the play structure closure represents.

Nathe said her group is going to meet with Portland city staff and school officials on Tuesday, April 29 at 6 p.m. to discuss the interim play needs of MLC students and neighborhood children and what steps to take next.

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