Shortly after opening the Aquatic Center, the City of Marshfield yanked its diving board following a safety incident.
At Thursday's meeting of the Board of Aldermen, Mayor Robert Williams stated, "Basically we’ve pulled the diving board; this is the city's decision. There's no secret that there was an incident there."
He explained that somebody jumped off the diving board and allegedly hit their head on the bottom of the pool — "Which is not supposed to happen, I'm guessing, if everything’s built to spec," he said.
After the meeting, city administrator John Benson clarified that on Memorial Day, a person dove off the diving board and hit their head on the slope of the pool floor. As a result of the incident, the city removed the diving board the next day while an investigation into the incident was conducted.
The city opted to remove the pool out of caution, Mayor Williams explained to Kristi Beattie of SAPP Design, the pool’s architectural firm, and Kyle McCawley of Lamp Rynearson, the pool’s project management firm.
A discussion ensued about the safety of the diving board that was removed. East Ward Alderman Rob Foster noted that the diving board worked well for him. "I weigh 225 pounds and I did front flip, back flip parachute — and I did not hit the bottom," he said. "I'd like to see us move toward reinstalling that board.
Mayor Williams asked Beattie to clarify whether the diving board that was in use complied with dimensions required by the 2012 building code that applies to swimming pools, and Beattie said that the manufacturer’s specs do apply. The mayor noted that anything the city does to replace it would be the city's choice.
"You'd be going above and beyond," Beattie said.
City Attorney Paul Link indicated that equipment can be built to spec, and someone could still get hurt. "Sometimes accidents happen that aren't the result of negligence on anyone's part," he said.
To this, the mayor asked if the city would gain any extra liability if the same diving board were put back in place and another swimmer had an incident.
"Really, no," Link said. "The other side would argue to a jury that somebody got hurt on it and they used it again." But the court would likely say that the equipment met all of the necessary requirements, according to Link.
The issue was not a decision for the Board of Aldermen to make, but Foster said, "I'd like to see us move toward reinstalling that board."
The mayor agreed, adding, "Then we'll put the diving board back in tomorrow."
McCawley said that there is a brand new board wrapped in plastic and waiting to go in.
Concluded the mayor, "I think the responsible thing to have done is exactly what the city did."