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Vernon Langley, a 100th Services Squadron maintenance worker, works to fix the mechanical arms of the ocean pod, one of four safety problems discovered during a recent inspection.
Vernon Langley, a 100th Services Squadron maintenance worker, works to fix the mechanical arms of the ocean pod, one of four safety problems discovered during a recent inspection. (Bryan Mitchell / S&S)

RAF MILDENHALL, England — A popular playroom for young children has been temporarily closed after inspectors discovered a handful of items that violated safety policies.

The Kids Zone at the Bob Hope Center on Mildenhall was closed Wednesday morning and it’s unclear when the facility will reopen, according to center director Stephanie Lown.

No one has been injured as a result of the problems, she said.

Maintenance workers from the 100th Services Squadron were already at work Wednesday afternoon to address three of the four problems that can be easily resolved, including fixing the arm of a mechanical ocean pod, replacing a spinning tile and tightening a pendulum swing.

However, the fourth safety concern, which involves having too much space between the three plastic slides, will force the Kids Zone to remain off-limits until a single replacement bridge can be shipped from the facility’s supplier in Canada, Lown said.

“We’ve already called all the families that have the ballroom booked for parties through the end of October to let them know the Kids Zone will be closed,” Lown said. “There is no way for us to isolate the slides.”

Two years ago, the base chapel constructed the center out of half of the Bob Hope Center’s ballroom, with roughly $40,000 provided by the now-defunct Combat Care program.

It’s the only on-base, indoor play area for young children of Air Force families who serve on RAFs Lakenheath, Mildenhall and Feltwell.

It’s regularly packed with kids as young as a few months and as old as 7 and also hosts dozens of parties and youth-oriented functions.

“It’s very unusual to find something like this for use for free,” Lown said.

“If you visited something like this off-base, it would cost 3 or 4 pounds per child.”

The Kids Zone is made up of plastic playground equipment and buffeted by foam padding meant to absorb falls.

There have been no reported incidents of injuries at the Kids Zone since its inception in 2004, according to the 100th Safety Office.

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