Missing fence turns pool into potential hazard

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The sun is shining and the heat index is predicted to reach 110 degrees. But Alexander Easton isn't tempted by the crystal clear swimming pool just a few feet away.

"This is even a hazard for me," he says. "If I were just walking through and I fell in -- I can't swim. So I'm going to die also."

Easton is kidding, but he and his friend Camille Thompson are dead serious about what they see as a potentially lethal hazard. The community pool at The Reserves at Beach Boulevard is missing a large portion of fence – and they say it has been for the entire month of July. Worse, the pool is located just a few feet from a playground where several unattended children are playing.

"The pool is steps away from the playground," says Thompson. "And if someone just waders off shortly and parents [aren't] looking, anything can happen. Every day this is open is a drowning risk for someone."

Thompson and Easton recently moved out, but return frequently to visit friends. And they say the lengthy of time the pool has remained unfenced is worrisome.

"What's really aggravating me is the lack of concern from management, because this is a clear risk right here," says Easton. "And they're doing literally nothing about it."

Well, not nothing.

"They put caution tape up," Thompson says. "That was their fix. To put up caution tape."

The caution tape is still there – in tatters on the ground. According to John Garner, president of the Florida Swimming Pool Association and a pool construction company owner since 1968, a strip of yellow tape doesn't cut it.

"That's not a safety barrier," he told First Coast News. "A 4-year-old child can't read 'caution.'"

The opening was created when the complex removed an adjacent tennis court that enclosed one side of the pool. Garner says the apartment should thought of an alternate enclosure ahead of time.

"They probably shouldn't have taken fence down without a plan to secure the pool," he says. "'Cause it's obviously a code violation and a safety hazard."

By law, any commercial or public pool must be enclosed by a fence that's a minimum of 48 inches high. Residential pools can alternatively use pool covers or screened enclosures. Garner says that any pool maintenance officials are obligated to report pool hazards to city code enforcement officials. The city of Jacksonville could not immediately confirm if they had received any complaints or planned to visit the site to inspect it.

On-site management referred questions to company headquarters in Orlando and declined to say when the fence might be replaced. But until it is, Garner says the pool is an accident waiting to happen.

"It's a very very dangerous situation," he says. "We're a water state, we've got water everywhere. But when it comes to a swimming pool, we need to do our due diligence and make sure the pool's safe."


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