Saturday, September 02, 2000

Death pool last drained on June 23


Maintenance records released in boy's drowning

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

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Dylan Roberts' name is spray-painted on a building next to the swimming pool where he drowned.
Patrick Reddy photo)
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        COVINGTON — A closed Latonia pool where a 6-year-old boy drowned this week had been drained three times this year, most recently on June 23, according to city records released Friday.

        The maintenance schedule for Rosedale Park and its pool, which has been closed since 1997, came under scrutiny by Latonia residents after the body of Dylan Roberts was pulled from its murky waters early Thursday. The boy and a playmate apparently had entered the area through a hole in the fence.

        “We're the forgotten neighborhood,” said Virginia Avenue resident, Kathy Riddle, 43, who lives near the entrance to Rosedale Park. “It shouldn't have to take a 6-year-old's death to draw attention to the problems in Rosedale Park. That pool should have been filled in a long time ago.”

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Dylan Roberts
        But recent maintenance records show that, besides draining Rosedale Pool three times this year, Covington's public works employees repaired holes cut into the 8- foot chain-link fence three times since February. They also repaired the gate and fixed the lock on the fence twice this year, according to the documents, which were released Friday after the Enquirer requested them under Kentucky's Open Records Law.

        The fence still had several holes in it when divers found Dylan in 6 to 7 feet of water at the deep end.

        On Friday, that fence had become a memorial.

        A wooden cross bearing Dylan's name and three plastic crosses leaned against it.

        Photos of the boy — dressed for his first day as a first-grader at Latonia Elementary on Monday — were hung on the fence. A half-dozen teddy bears and Beanie Babies were piled nearby.

        By Friday evening, neighbors estimated they had collected about 300 signatures on petitions asking city officials to fill in Rosedale Pool, fix up the park and rename it for Dylan.

        When mourners attend today's 11 a.m. service for Dylan at Swindler Funeral Home in Covington, petitions also will be available.

        Covington officials publicly expressed condolences to the boy's family Thursday, and announced they would investigate the history of any problems at Rosedale Park.

        Rosedale Pool closed in June 1997 after flooding caused cracks on the pool bottom and damaged its filtration system, as well as the pool building and sidewalks.

        Officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency estimated it would cost $62,370 to repair, but that money was never paid to Covington because the city never submitted bills, said Cash Centers, operations and recovery branch manager with the state division of Emergency Management.

        In February 1999, City Manager Greg Jarvis requested an extension on the project because the city was looking at alternative sites for a pool to serve Latonia, Mr. Centers said. But the city failed to choose a site before the project's deadline, Mr. Centers said.

        Mr. Jarvis and Assistant City Manager Tom Steidel said Covington had requested $500,000 from FEMA to fix the pool. City employees have recently ruled out building another pool in Rosedale Park flood plain.

        Residents near the pool continued to ask why city officials did not respond to their complaints about the park and children playing around the pool.

        “They need to fix this park up,” said Jeanna Harris, 21, who joined in the search for Dylan on Wednesday night. “It's the only place for these kids to go.”

        City officials said they responded to the complaints they were aware of. It was unclear how many were registered.

        A fund has been established at Firstar Bank for Dylan's funeral expenses. His mother, Carla Roberts, works for a Covington company that makes life jackets.

        Ms. Roberts said Friday that she has been overwhelmed by the show of support from neighbors she barely knew. She said her family moved to the Rosedale Mobile Home Park in March, and she has had little time to meet her neighbors.

        “You never know how many friends you have until something like this happens,” she said.

        Lt. Col. Bill Dorsey, spokesman for Covington Police, said Friday that he could not immediately provide a list of residents' complaints about Rosedale Pool.

       



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