Flotation Devices Banned From Pool
West Caldwell Council makes final decision under advisement of insurance carrier.
While the West Caldwell Council did try to work out a compromise, the council's final decision is a ban on all flotation devices at the Cedar Street Pool, regardless if the devices are "dime store" swimmies or U.S. Coast Guard-approved life vests.
Councilman Joseph Cecere, a member of the Pool Utility Committee, said, "We discussed it with our Joint Insurance Fund (JIF). Their written recommendation from their safety experts was no flotation devices."
Cecere made his remarks to West Caldwell resident Andy Brown at Tuesday night's council meeting. Brown and other parents had asked the council to reconsider the no swimmie rule to see if U.S. Coast Guard-approved vests could be exempted from the new ban.
At a previous meeting, several council members stated they would not be opposed to the U.S. Coast Guard swim devices.
However, both Cecere and Council President Stan Hladik, another member of the pool utility committee, explained the problem with the life vests is they need to be properly fitted to work correctly.
"This would take away from what the lifeguards are supposed to be doing. The lifeguards would need special training to determine proper fitting," Hladik said.
Hladik said the town's insurance carrier "adamantly opposed" any flotation device. According to their recommendation, "There is no substitute for adult supervision and swim lessons," Hladik explained.
If Cedar Street Pool had continued to allow swim aids, the town could have been in danger of losing its insurance coverage.
Hladik and Cecere apologized to Brown for not informing residents about the new "No Swimmie" rule before the start of the summer season, when residents could have decided to not pay for pool membership based upon this change.
Once the pool season is over, the pool committee will meet with the pool managers and revisit this issue, as well as looking at the future of both pools. Mayor Joseph Tempesta said residents would be invited to serve on a committe that would make recommendations on the future of both Cedar Street and Westville pools.
While Brown said he appreciated council members "taking this matter to heart," he said he was disappointed with the final ruling.
"I can't get past if I am holding my 2-year-old son in the water, and he kicks me, and I go down. The flotation devices are a safety net for parents as we teach our kids to swim," Brown said.