Misbehavior at Gahanna Pools results in stricter rules and officer attendance

Bad behavior among young people and adults has led to new rules at Gahanna’s pools, including requiring guests under 16 to be accompanied by an adult.

The new requirement came into effect July 16, three weeks before the end of the season, for the safety of pool staff, pool members and guests, Mayor Laurie Jadwin said at the council meeting. municipal council of Gahanna on July 18.

The new rules were posted July 15 on Gahanna’s Parks and Recreation Facebook page, among other outlets.

“Since last Friday (July 15) when the new rules were shared, at that time we had seven police calls in the previous 14 days, Jadwin said. “We have had 40 incident reports completed and filed since the opening of the pool season. This is an absurd amount for what we usually have.

She said the decision to change them was not taken lightly.

“We looked at just about every municipality in central Ohio and the rules they currently have in place,” Jadwin said. “And I’m going to share with you, we’re one of the last municipalities to have these kinds of rules in place. We are one of the last at the table.

She said the incidents not only included misbehavior by minors, but also by adults.

“There’s one story in particular that shocked me,” Jadwin said. “We had a 15-year-old lifeguard, a young girl, wanting to get her first city job, trying to enforce a diving board safety rule, leading an adult, ‘Please don’t do this; it’s against the rules. In response, (I apologize in advance for the language), the adult yelled at the lifeguard, the 15-year-old girl called her a bitch then threatened to grab her by the hair and drag her across the pool.

Jadwin said public safety was his responsibility.

“I’ve had complaints from families who no longer want to come to the pool because of the behaviors they encountered there,” she said. “That’s an example of what happened.”

Aquatic Supervisor Chris Simmons, who has been in the aquatics for nearly 10 years, said he has never seen the bad behavior incidents Gahanna experienced this summer.

“I was at the pools for one particular incident that I can talk about,” he said. “We were dealing with customers who were disrespectful to lifeguards. The director asked them to leave. They refused to leave. They called me for support. I told them, ‘You have to go.’ They told me in colorful language that they weren’t going to leave.

At the same time, Simmons said, a large group of teenagers from the same neighborhood would gather and run into the parking lot to fight.

“They all rushed in as my pool attendant tried to physically keep them out,” he said. “At that point I said we were going to call the police. It’s too much.”

Simmons said the behaviors were unacceptable.

“It’s not something we thought we could expect,” he said. “Certainly, out of season, we’ll take a look at things.”

Anna Roth, 4, of New Albany, plays in the new wading pool at Gahanna Pool on July 23.

Stephania Bernard-Ferrell, director of Gahanna Parks & Recreation, said the new rules were not a knee-jerk reaction to a singular incident.

“It’s something that’s been going on for several weeks,” she said. “It’s not fair to our staff; it’s not fair to people who come to use the pools as intended. I refuse to wait for something worse to happen.

At that time, says Bernard-Ferrell, a resource agent will be at the pool between 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., and from 6 p.m. until closing at 8:30 p.m., another agent will be on site.

“The staff know they have the support of the police on site,” she said.

Dan Pearlman, Gahanna’s public information officer, said Gahanna Pool and Hunters Ridge Pool will be open through Aug. 9. After that, he said, the Gahanna Pool will be closed for the season, but the Hunters Ridge Pool will remain open on weekends. and Labor Day.

The paddling pool at Gahanna Pool is to remain open to the public until the weather no longer permits.

Gahanna Town Council Chairman Stephen Renner said he looked forward to having community-wide discussions about the pools.

“I know some people might laugh about it, but we need to get back to the virtues of respect, and we need to know exactly what that really means and hold each other accountable, as members of the community,” he said. .

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