MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Two South Florida pools are shut down Thursday and there is a possibility they may never re-open.
The decision to close the pools comes after inspectors found major issues with the electrical systems.
For months, CBS4 has been investigating incidents of children being shocked and electrocuted in pools—now one city is taking the proactive approach to prevent another tragedy.
With summer camps in full swing, and the holiday weekend approaching, North Miami Beach’s pools should be packed but the Washington community pool and Uleta community pool are barren and locked up. The gates are lined with signs they are closed for the summer.
Ana Garcia, North Miami Beach’s city manager, is the one behind the closures.
“We have hundreds and hundreds of kids per day in the different facilities,” Garcia said.
When she heard about the recent cases of children being shocked and electrocuted in pools, she ordered a top to bottom inspection of the city’s pools.
“I just wanted to make sure we went above and beyond in regard of being cautious,” Garcia said.
Low and behold they found something; electrical boxes were in various states of decay and several wires were corroding. The inspectors summarized many of the electrical systems were ancient. They told the city if not fixed swimmers would be at risk. The City Manager had a choice: Keep it open by putting a band-aide on it and let it happen or shut it down.
She chose to shut it down.
“Because safety is not something that I can ever compromise,” Garcia said.
Parks director Paulette Murphy asked for an estimate to fix the 40 plus year-old systems. What she got was sticker shock.
“We received one quote for $400,000,” Murphy said.
Garcia made the unpopular decision right after that. While residents are without two pools, it may pay off in the long run—the city is now debating starting over. “If the investment is not worthy we would recommend to our elected officials ‘hey let’s demolish that facility and begin to build something new,’” Garcia said. She says they could do something smaller but similar to Victory Park, the city’s crown jewel and only pool right now.
While the debate takes place, North Miami Beach is busing residents from the closed pools to Victory. Garcia hopes other cities and pool owners are taking a closer look in light of what they found.
“I think it needs to be mandatory in every park system. I think it needs to be mandatory in every homeowner association,” Garcia said.
“The city will decide what they are going to do with the pools later this month. In the meantime, they have busses running from the two closed pools to the one that is still open.
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