Wellesley has re-opened Morses Pond, which has been closed since the start of the month following the drowning there of a 10-year-old boy from New Hampshire.
The pond has been closed pending a police investigation into the death and an evaluation of the town’s safety operations and physical pond conditions by outside consultants
According to a statement released Friday by the police, aquatics safety consultant Shawn DeRosa has finished the first phase of his work, which included reviewing emergency action plans, emergency equipment, staffing patterns and staff qualifications. He found the lifeguards qualified and up-to-speed on emergency procedures and also found lifeguard stations to be situated properly. But he did make recommendations that the town has acted upon, including:
- Installed a new line of red buoys to more clearly delineate the transition from shallow to deep water across the entire beach. The location of the red buoys will be monitored daily and will be repositioned, if necessary, in response to changes in water depth.
- Revised Pond procedures to require any person less than four feet in height who wishes to use the slide or otherwise swim outside of the red buoys to pass the “deep water” swim test. This same requirement will also be applicable to any other individuals, including adults, who present with weak swimming skills.
- Revised Pond procedures to relocate the lifeguard stationed at the top of the slide to the bottom of the slide.
- Installed signage at the entrance to the Pond and throughout the beach area to explain the red buoy line and warn all patrons of the change in water depth.
- Added signage and modified the public announcement script to encourage parents, guardians and caretakers to monitor their children at all times and immediately report any missing person.
- Revised Pond procedures to include that during a search, all patrons will be directed to move away from the beach and remain in the grass area until they are advised by a member of the Morses Pond staff that they can return to the beach area.
Additional actions taken include:
- Review of the procedures for initiating a 911 call and the public safety response protocols by Morses Pond management and representatives from the Police and Fire Departments.
- Performance of a bathymetric survey of the Pond floor and a determination made that no anomalies or other features that are inconsistent with a safe swimming environment were identified.
- Inspection of the Pond and water samples on June 20 by the Health Department which determined that the facility, safety equipment and water are safe for reopening.
DeRosa will follow up with an operational audit to ensure that all policies, procedures and safety protocols are functioning appropriately.
A copy of DeRosa’s written report will be made available on the Town’s website (www.wellesleyma.gov) and the Police Department website (www.wellesleypolice.com) when it becomes available. Upon receipt of the written report, the Board of Selectmen will convene a public meeting to review the findings, discuss the Town’s current and future actions, and respond to any questions.
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