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Iconic Rocketship Design of Old Probably Not Coming Back to Village Park

Standards in industry changed, according to former director of the parks department.

The village board is looking at , which has been the subject of complaints by residents about people hanging around the park after hours and damage to the equipment and surrounding fence.

Rocketship Park, is officially called Clifton H. Lee Memorial Park, according to the village's website. The nickname came from the uniquely designed playset that was installed in the park around 1972, according to Ron Carlson, the former director of the Port Jefferson Recreation and Parks Department. That playset was then replaced by a second rocketship.

"The original 'rocketship' met its demise around 1988 after many years of service," said Carlson in an email to Patch.

He said that after 16 years of service the popular playground set had been patched, welded and had parts replaced on it over the years.

"We did everything possible to save this local 'landmark,' however, for safety reasons it was decided that it must come down," he said.

The village looked for what Carlson called a "suitable repacement" for the iconic playground set. They located a similar rocketship that was not as tall but met newer safety standards for the time.

"It was actually more user friendly," he said. "More slides and exit tunnels. If you were familiar with the first piece, it had a long stainless steel slide that was extremely hot in the summer months."

About 11 years later, the second "rocketship" had to ve replaced because of wear and tear on the euipment and a lack of replacement parts. The village searched for another "rocketship" but it could not find anything like the originals. With even more changes in industry standards and lawsuits from accidents newer pieces meet higher standards but are more expensive as a result.

"What you see now at the park is about the closest thing to a 'rocketship' that was available at the time," Carlson said.

Old photos of the original and newer rocketships in Clifton H. Lee Memorial Park from the Port Jefferson village historical archive.

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