JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – After a 6-year-old boy drowned in a Lackawanna retention pond on Mother's Day, a local lawmaker is vowing to do something about the dangerous pond.
Jamarion Lee was playing with his 8-year-old brother when he slipped into a retention pond off Nolan Street. His brother ran for help, but by the time rescuers got to him, it was too late.
The city told the News4Jax I-TEAM that there are certain design guidelines it must follow for pond fencing, and the pond where Jamarion drowned meets design specifications that do not require a fence.
But State Sen. Audrey Gibson told News4Jax she plans to cut through the red tape with Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis to get a fence installed around the pond.
“Help is on the way,” Gibson said. “The people in the community need some assurance that it's going to get done. That it's going to get better and safer for the children that live in that area. It's just a no brainer.”
City officials explained that a fence would be required if the slope around the pond was greater than 1 foot for every 4 feet of distance.
But FDOT makes exceptions when the pond is likely to experience "significant exposure" to children or the elderly -- like if they are adjacent to schools or day care facilities.
The I-TEAM discovered Pinedale Elementary School is four streets away from the Westside pond where the boy drowned and neighbors said many of the children walk right by it to and from school, five days a week.
There is also a public park two streets away from that pond.
“Without question there shouldn't be, 'We'll see what we can do.' That's not the right answer. The correct answer is, 'We are going to mitigate for the public safety issues that exists at the pond, period,” Gibson said.
There are five ponds within a few blocks of each other on the Westside and none of them are fenced.
Neighbors told the I-TEAM they would like to see all of them fenced if possible.
A city official said they are looking into that and will get back to the I-TEAM. As of Tuesday evening, the I-TEAM had not yet received a response.