What to do with the school district's two condemned playgrounds?

That has been a quandary facing Region 12 officials.

Determining how to best handle demolition and replacement of arsenic-contaminated playgrounds in Bridgewater and Roxbury has been put in the hands of the Board of Education's Building Committee.

Committee chairman Tony Bedini has been charged with overseeing how much arsenic contamination is actually at the playgrounds of Booth Free School in Roxbury and Burnham School in Bridgewater.

Mr. Bedini has also been asked to oversee the demolition of the playscapes and recommending a company to replace them. He will be working in collaboration with the schools' two PTOs and the towns.

Carolan Dwyer, president of the Burnham PTO, said last week she is looking forward to working with Mr. Bedini. A meeting was planned this week.

"Our goal is to have this finished and completed by the fall," Ms. Dwyer said. "We feel it is important to provide playgrounds for the children."

The playgrounds were condemned June 7 by the education board when the PTOs from both schools made a presentation to the board about the issue.

The sites were cordoned off the next day by Public Works crews in both towns.

Testing has already been done on both pressure-treated wood playscapes.

Hydro Technologies Inc. had conducted a test in Bridgewater through the New Milford Health Department in November 2008, revealing arsenic levels of 2,190 milligrams per kilogram of wood.

A test was recently done at the playscape in Roxbury by the Newtown Health Department, revealing arsenic levels of 1,750 mg to kilogram of wood.

Booth Free playground committee chairman Stacey Kennedy said "that doesn't mean children have been directly exposed to that high a level. I am very optimistic that we have caught this in time."

Board of Education chairman Jim Hirschfield gave assurances last week water sources have been tested at both schools and no arsenic contamination was indicated.

Under the terms of the new draft lease -- approved by the education board for the elementary schools in Bridgewater, Roxbury and Washington -- the playgrounds are added under the Board of Education's auspices.

Previously, there had been a question whether the towns or the board was responsible for replacement costs.

PTOs in both towns have started fundraising to pay for part of the estimated $65,000 cost in Bridgewater and $60,000 cost in Roxbury.

Bridgewater's PTO has raised half of its goal.

Mr. Bedini said state and federal regulations will be followed on disposing of toxic wood and soil from the two sites, as well as in purchasing new playgrounds to replace the demolished ones on school grounds.