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Gaffney mulls requiring fences for ponds in new communities after child’s death

Reggie Gaffney, District 7
Reggie Gaffney, District 7 (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Hours after the body of 4-year-old Gavin Douyon was found in a retention pond in a Northside neighborhood, Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Gaffney said he plans to explore the possibility of passing legislation that would require fences to be added around retention ponds in new planned communities.

Gaffney said something needs to be done to prevent future tragedies from happening.

A similar incident happened in April when a missing 5-year-old Jacksonville boy Mohamad Waleen Mohamad Nour, who had autism and was nonverbal, got out of his home. He was later found dead in a retention pond.

“I think at some point if I can, or one of us [councilmembers] come out with legislation to mandate, and in the future when new associations and homes built that maybe they start putting some barriers around it for protection, but those are conversations that we got to keep having,” Gaffney told News4Jax.

The District 7 representative said education is also a key to preventing future tragedies and he called on private homeowner’s associations that have retention ponds to look into fencing options.

Gaffney said he will continue to have conversations with city engineers and developers to see what else can be done to make the ponds safer.

Joining this morning is Jacksonville Council member Ju'Coby Pittman. Pittman has been pushing the city to make its retention ponds safer after the recent deaths in ponds.
Joining this morning is Jacksonville Council member Ju'Coby Pittman. Pittman has been pushing the city to make its retention ponds safer after the recent deaths in ponds.

For a year and a half, councilwoman LeAnna Cumber and councilwoman Ju’Coby Pittman said they have been working on a retention pond safety campaign, which would include educating children and families of the dangers and potentially pushing for stricter regulations.

MORE | Councilwoman calls emergency meeting after boy drowns in Jacksonville pond

“We had a meeting less than a month ago to come up with more plans and ideas of how we can educate the community, educate our kids, as well as working with HOAs and apartment complexes to let them know how dangerous these retention pods are especially for our kids,” Pittman told News4Jax on Tuesday. “This is heartbreaking, and I wish, you know, we could do more, but our efforts are to make sure that we’re standing by each other and aligned with each other to educate our community about how serious this issue is.”

Pittman said Jacksonville may need help from state and federal legislators to bring real change.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry on Tuesday applauded the work done so far by council members.

“My heart goes out to the Douyon family on the tragic loss of their beloved son, Gavin,” Curry tweeted. As our community mourns, I commend the work underway by City Council members to increase awareness of the potential hazards of retention ponds to help prevent future tragedies.”


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Digital reporter who has lived in Jacksonville for more than 25 years and focuses on important local issues like education and the environment.