News

Restroom has gone to pot

Pity the potty.

Damaged by insects and the elements, its fixtures worn and its porcelain sullied, the Waterfront Park restroom has seen its last flush.

Monday afternoon, temporary fencing went up around the building, which includes a storage area and several covered picnic tables.

It will be razed after testing for asbestos and lead paint determines disposal options.

“I would anticipate that by the end of winter, the building should be dismantled and gone,” said Lance Newkirk, operations manager for the city public works department.

Closure of the restroom followed two recent inspections, one by public works officials and another by a local building inspector, who found the building “in an advanced state of decay” and “obsolete...at the end of (its) life cycle.”

Among the problems cited with the 1940s-era building were aging wiring, poor ventilation, extensive damage to the decks, railings and foundation, and other structural damage.

“And those were just the visible things,” Newkirk said, adding that the cost of needed repairs was likely to exceed the value of the building.

Newkirk review of the facility came with department budgeting.

“We’ve been spending an awful lot of money just doing spot repairs, replacing rotting wood here, replacing roof damage here,” he said.

The building has been earmarked for replacement since 1999, when a new master plan for the park was drafted by landscape architect and consultant Todd Matthews.

Not least among the building’s deficiencies, Matthews said in his report, was that it sits in the wrong place – blocking the view of the Eagle Harbor from Bjune Drive.

Matthews recommended construction of a new restroom facility south of the tennis courts, overlooking the parking area and dock.

Other recommendations at that time included new pathways to meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act; a seating area with new benches near Bjune Drive; better lighting; and an improved play area and resurfaced tennis courts.

Newkirk said the park master plan would come back into play with the restroom’s closure, and recommendations made in the coming months.

The city will look for grant funding to replace the building, he said.

In the meantime, park visitors who find themselves in need of relief can wobble across the street to the Commons, outfitted with modern fixtures and open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays.

Also, two “Honey Bucket” toilets sit next to the public dock for evening and weekend use.

Newkirk said both were upgraded this week, one with a handicapped accessible unit and another with a wash station.

More port-o-loos will be brought in when park usage increases next summer, if a permanent facility is not in place by then.

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