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Park potty clogged again

The council OKs a new design, but not enough money to actually build it.

The City Council sent a new Waterfront Park bathroom plan back to the drawing board Wednesday.

The council approved $325,000 for the bathroom’s construction, which is over $100,000 less than a design recently endorsed by the Public Works Committee.

“The design we presented can’t be built for the budget they wanted,” said Winslow Tomorrow project manager Sandy Fischer, who is charged with overseeing the downtown park’s master plan.

That design, crafted by Seattle-based Carlson Architects, would have set the bathroom under the park’s existing tennis courts.

It featured showers, storage space, natural lighting, a roof deck level with the tennis courts and “earth sheltered” walls.

Council members in the Public Works Committee last week said they approved of the site as a compromise between earlier concepts that were either too costly or aesthetically unappealing.

But other councilors on Wednesday said the Carlson design’s price tag was still too high.

“For $225,000 we had a bathroom (design) that had a climbing wall and shower stalls,” said Councilman Bob Scales, referring to a prefabricated design discussed last year but later abandoned.

The park has gone without a permanent restroom since 2001, when a dilapidated facility was torn down.

Wednesday, councilors expressed frustration with the long bathroom design process and its frequent appearances on the council docket.

“I don’t want to see this bathroom again until I can use it,” Scales said.

“I share your sentiment,” said Councilman Nezam Tooloee. “I don’t want to see the damn thing until it’s built.”

The council approved Tooloee’s motion to move forward with the Carlson design at a lower cost than Fischer estimated.

“We said build it – however much of it can be done – within the available budget of $325,000,” said Tooloee on Thursday.

“We also said have public input and make further design tradeoffs as needed – but no need to come back to council to make any more detailed design decisions.”

Councilwoman Debbie Vancil cautioned that the council’s action would set the process back and further deprive park users of a bathroom.

“We’re at the 11th hour,” she said. “We’re at the finish line. Now is not the time to say we’re going to quit. (The council’s decision) constrains the design.

“We can’t design the bathroom, but we’re doing that by not allowing staff the budget to do that.”

Scrapping the Carlson design will set the process back a few months, possibly with a stripped-down bathroom built at the park early next year.

“I suspect we’ll be using port-o-potties for a while,” Fischer said.

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