White Township supervisors on Wednesday continued discussion regarding a potential ordinance to regulate swimming pools for safety.
The issue has been an ongoing topic for officials after the death of Lenny Hatinda, 5, who wandered away from his White Township home the evening of July 29 and was found unresponsive in a pool around 11 pm about a tenth of a mile away from his home.
Township residents including Joel Royer have attended meetings since the tragedy lobbying for an ordinance to require fencing around pools.
The township does not have an ordinance governing pool. Previously, township officials said rules for fences and pools are covered by the Uniform Construction Code, and at the time of installation, must meet certain requirements.
UCC requires pools of varying heights and depths to have safety features such as locked gates and fences depending on the size. Those regulations are enforced during the time of building.
The township does not enforce those regulations after the fact, nor does it enforce the regulations on pools that existed before UCC went into effect, officials said last year.
On Wednesday, township manager Chris Anderson said the comprehensive planning committee is actively reviewing sample ordinances with aspects governing new and existing pools. They are also looking at possibly incorporating ways to handle blighted properties into the same ordinance.
Supervisor Sandi Gillette, a member of the committee, said she has researched several ordinances in use in Pennsylvania, focusing on areas similar to White Township, with residential and urban areas spread out.
She believes the township should require fencing for all new pool installations, both above and in-ground, but noted enforcing the requirement for existing pools “would be difficult to do.”
Gillette also suggested the township launch a pool safety campaign in the spring to encourage pool owners to be more aware of safety hazards.
Supervisor Rich Gallo was concerned such an ordinance would “penalize a lot of people,” and asked if those who use hard pool covers, such as the type strong enough to walk on, would need a fence in addition to the cover.
He also raised the issue of enforcement.
“What if you don’t lock the gate?” he asked.
Supervisor Eugene Gemmell encouraged the ordinance to include way to deal with “other dangerous structures or situations.”
He spoke of an incident in August where township officials went to an abandoned structure to mow high grass and found an old well on the property.
Gemmell described the well as full of water with a cover that “looked more like an old wood pallet” and said the cover was floating on the top of the well.
Officials measured about 4 feet of water in the well with “muck” at the bottom, and filled it in with 2 tons of gravel, Gemmell said.
“It needs addressed in the ordinance,” he said.
Also on Wednesday, supervisors recognized William Simmons, president of Indiana Fire Association, who was ranked among the top 100 nationally in the 2021 Small Town America Civic Volunteer Awards program.
Simmons was nominated in the fall by the township and recognized for his service to the fire department, Citizens’ Ambulance Service, St. Bernard of Clairvaux Parish and the United Way of Indiana County, among other community service organizations, according to a previous news release .
Simmons is also the mayor of Indiana Borough.
William Simmons, center, was presented a plaque by White Township officials Chauncey Ross, left, communications specialist, and manager Chris Anderson on Wednesday. Simmons was recognized for his ranking among the top 100 people honored in the 2021 Small Town America Civic Volunteer Awards program and was nominated by the township.
In remarks Wednesday, he said he is grateful for the relationship IFA has with the township, especially when the association broke ground for the station along Indian Springs Road, which opened in 2006.
“You were behind it 100 percent,” Simmons said.
The White Township station provided IFA the opportunity to offer a live-in program as well as reduce response time.
“We appreciate your support,” Simmons said.
In other business, supervisors:
• Amended the scope of the Stewardship Committee to prioritize White’s Woods. Known during its formation as the woodlot management committee, it operates under the township’s recreation advisory board as a subcommittee and oversees the township’s woodlot management.
The committee organized in January. It is chaired by Barb Hauge, and members are David Dahlheimer, vice chair; Sierra Davis, secretary; and Jeff Geesey and Matt Klunk.
“It’s a big undertaking,” Anderson said. “There’s a lot to review.”
• Announced that Pennsylvania American Water will be working on the remediation of waterlines at East Pike and Two Lick Drive beginning around mid-March.
• Told residents of the Shadowood Village to be aware REA will be upgrading electric meters beginning in March, and at no time will workers need to enter a home. Officials reminded residents to ask for identification and call for verification if someone is seeking access to a home.
• Held an executive session for personnel and real estate purposes. No action was taken.