Portable pools considered nuisance

By Christina Calloway

Pools subject to ordinance

PNT senior writer

ccalloway@pntonline.com

Phillip Aragon wouldn't know where to put his swimming pool now that he's aware he is in violation of city ordinance by having it on the side of his house.

The construction worker from Portales and father of three is upset that city officials want to regulate what's on his property. He says his children use the swimming pool daily during the summer.

"It's a way to keep my kids cool and keep them out of trouble," Aragon said. "There's nothing to do around here and now they want to take pools away."

Aragon and other residents with a portable pool at least three feet deep on their property that is not secluded to the public, covered or in a fenced in area are in violation of a city ordinance, according to the city attorney.

City attorney Steve Doerr confirmed that portable pools fall under the attractive nuisance ordinance, something councilors questioned at a previous meeting.

"There are still ways for people to have pools but they must take into consideration the risk and the safety of the little ones around them who are not aware of the danger of an open pool," said city councilor Leo Lovett.

The main fear councilors expressed at their council meeting two weeks ago was that small children could potentially drown while playing in an open pool.

The next step city officials are taking to enforce these rules involves writing warning letters to violators explaining the dangers of their portable pools and what they can do to correct the issue.

Although councilors are suggesting pools be placed in the backyard, other solutions include using pool covers or tarps when the pool is not in use.

"We're going to provide (violators) with a letter explaining the problem with the pool and ask them to voluntarily comply," said Lt. Mark Cage with the Portales Police Department.

Cage said if residents don't comply, they will be issued a citation.

"We're hoping we don't have to get there," Cage said. "We want people to understand that this is a safety issue. I hope we can band together for the safety of our children."

Aragon says he has no backyard to house his pool and feels children shouldn't trespass on his property to begin with.

"I think (enforcing the ordinance) is another way for (the city) to make money," Aragon said. "I don't think the city pool is sanitary. The city shouldn't regulate pools on people's property."

Nanny Alicia Brand says the two girls she baby-sits swim in their pool at least five days a week. She agrees with Aragon that the ordinance will only force those who want to swim to use the public pool.

"The public pool is not as safe and sanitary," Brand said.

She added that a person's front yard is their property and people should not cited for what's on their property.

"Are they going to say the same thing about trampolines and swing sets being dangerous? Where do they draw the line," asked Brand.

Lovett says this is solely about safety.

"Do we start enforcing the ordinance after a child is injured or drowns or should we be proactive and keep that from happening?," Lovett asked.

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