JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Following the recent deaths of three children in local retention ponds, city officials are trying to make some adjustments. A 4-year-old daughter drowned in a privately owned retention pond on Monday morning.
The girl had walked away while her mother was performing yard work on Shadwell Court, according to police. Two hours later, the 4-year-body old’s was discovered in a retention pond behind a nearby property.
A plush animal wrapped in what appears to be a baby blanket, as well as flowers, now sit near the pond where the little girl drowned.
On social media, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry launched a plan to prevent repeat tragedies, adding that private property owners should also pitch in.
Neighbors have different ideas about how to prevent these tragedies, and none of them involve natural barriers.
“This child would be alive if there was a fence up because of the statutory mandate,” said Sunni Kirby, a neighbor.
The city of Jacksonville maintains 240 retention ponds in Duval County. There are even more privately held ones, such as the one where the little child perished the day before yesterday. Some properties have fences, although they are not needed to have one.
Since the beginning of 2021, seven complaints about the safety of retention ponds have been filed to the city.
Members of the Jacksonville City Council had previously met with state regulators to discuss how to proceed with additional safety regulations for retention ponds throughout Duval County, with Councilmembers Ju’Coby Pittman and LeAnna Cumber leading the fight.
Stakeholders last met in early June, although discussions have continued since then.
“Anything that is successful requires time to develop. On June 21, Pittman said, “We’re hoping and praying that no catastrophe occurs.”
Councilmember Ju’Coby Pittman issued the following statement following the death of the 4-year-old girl:
“Unfortunately, these retention ponds are necessary for development, but they have become a hazard and have resulted in the drowning of children. Councilwoman LeAnna Cumber and I are both very concerned about this unfortunate issue that has been affecting families in recent months. Our efforts are focused on examining various models, such as those used in Tallahassee, in order to build local legislation and safety measures for the retention pond.”
A meeting for local agencies, such as the Public Works Department, is being planned, according to Pittman.