Wading pool rules irk residents
August 31, 2003
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Complaints concerning the banning of children’s wading pools deeper than a foot turned out to be all wet Thursday at a Town Hall meeting for residents of camps Foster and Lester.
Although several people were expected to voice their objections to a base rule that was laxly enforced in the past, only one couple showed up at the meeting to discuss the issue.
And when they asked why the restriction was being strictly enforced now, the answer was a polite, but curt, “that was the rule in place, you were aware of the rule, it was in the book.”
The ban is island-wide.
The restriction on the pools has been in place as a housing regulation since 1999, but often has been overlooked.
According to officials, the enforcement of the old rule was considered after a child nearly drowned last year on Kadena Air Base.
The move was announced earlier this summer, and the Army and Air Force Exchange has cooperated by giving refunds for returned pools.
The pools — anything deeper than a foot and wider than six feet — are no longer being offered for sale at Okinawa exchanges.
Brett Buckley, an AAFES official attending the meeting, said more than 100 pools have been turned in.
During Thursday’s meeting, Marine Capt. Jon Petersen and his wife, Susan, who reside in Camp Foster’s Kishaba Housing, said they were misled when they purchased a pool from AAFES in August 2002.
Petersen said he called the Base Housing Office at the time and was told there would be no problem with setting up their new pool, which was 12 feet wide and 33 inches deep.
All family housing on Okinawa is handled by the 718th Civil Engineer Squadron’s Housing Element on Kadena Air Base.
An official there said “the pool rule, because AAFES was selling them, was being overlooked, and that was housing’s policy on that,” Petersen added.
“Whether that was right or wrong is not for me to say.”
Petersen asked if any consideration had been given to allowing the pools but requiring fences and pool covers be installed.
“We could probably make a rule that says if you have a fence in your backyard, you can have a pool,” said Marine Col. Glenn Wagner, commander of camps Foster and Lester.
But details would have to be worked out — such as how deep to sink the fence posts and what kinds of fences would be allowed.
About 70 residents attended the meeting held at the Butler Officers Club.
Other items covered included:
• A briefing by an official from the U.S. Naval Hospital on water safety, prompted by two recent drownings.• A presentation by the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society on what the organization is all about.
Base Inspector Col. Michael Dyer’s report that a crackdown on crimes committed by juveniles on Okinawa bases this year has resulted in the expulsion of 44 children so far, compared with 49 for all of last year.