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Grieving mother wins fight to fence pond

A Carrollwood woman spends more than a year trying to get K-Mart to enclose a retention pond where her son drowned last year. Finally the county is building the fence.

By LOGAN D. MABE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 28, 2002

CARROLLWOOD -- After a year-long campaign, Nancy Hart got the good news. She had convinced someone to erect a fence around a retention pond that claimed her son's life.

"By golly, I got it done," Mrs. Hart said. "I have no words to describe it. This was something I vowed I would never give up."

Mrs. Hart's son, Joseph William Hart, 45, was traveling from the James A. Haley VA Medical Center to the Harts' Northdale home March 19, 2001. Near a bus stop on Fletcher Avenue, Joseph Hart apparently fell into the retention pond along Orange Grove Drive and drowned.

No one knew Joseph Hart's fate until 28 days later when sheriff's investigators came to Mrs. Hart's home with the news that Joseph had been found dead.

Initially, Mrs. Hart implored the K-Mart corporation to put up a fence around the pond, which is on property owned by the retailing giant. Company officials declined. Mrs. Hart, her husband Dave and her other son Steve picketed the store to no avail.

So, Mrs. Hart changed tactics. She asked the county to do something.

"I went before the Board of County Commissioners on June 19 and (commissioners) Pat Frank and Jan Platt said they'd review it," Mrs. Hart said. "I thought it was impossible, I really did. But I thought, "By gosh, I'm going to go down there and speak my piece,' and I did. They went to bat for me."

A month later, Mrs. Hart got word that the county would install the fence. Workers began erecting the 500-foot-long, 6-foot-tall vinyl fence last week.

"They're up there whacking away right now," Mrs. Hart said Friday. "How about that?"

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-- Logan D. Mabe can be reached at or at

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