Priority must become

Published 9:26 pm Tuesday, May 6, 2008

By Staff
a reality for the city
An abundance of events and activities along Washington’s waterfront, Stewart Parkway and downtown underscored the need for permanent restroom facilities.
The “temporary” facilities at the west end of Stewart Parkway just are not adequate, not to mention those facilities are not the most appealing to look at.
The city has been talking about locating permanent restrooms somewhere at or near the waterfront. Enough talk. It’s way past time to act.
To be sure, the city is working on the project. That work needs to be sped up. The “temporary” restrooms have been at the location for five years. Some of the restrooms are open to the public. Other restrooms and showers are open only to boaters who are using city docks.
Last month, the City Council instructed Bobby Roberson, the city’s planning and development director, to look at the west end of Stewart Parkway, where temporary restroom facilities have been in place for five years, and the east end of Stewart Parkway as possible sites for the permanent facilities. Mayor Judy Meier Jennette told Roberson to “get a sense of what we can build for $100,000,” the amount of grant funding the city expects to receive to help pay for the restrooms.
During its planning session in February, the council determined that placing permanent public restrooms somewhere along the waterfront is one of the city’s top priorities for the next two years. It’s good that doing that is a priority with the council. It would be even better for the council to make sure that priority becomes a reality.
At that planning session, Councilman Archie Jennings said the only question left for the city to answer is where the permanent restrooms should go.
As the council, during its budget work sessions this spring, looks for the money to build the restrooms, it should also pick a spot on which to build those restrooms. Choose the location, then work on finding the money.
Even if the permanent restroom facilities do not include showers and a laundry for boaters, just having urinals and toilets for the public to use during events like the Summer Festival, the Fourth of July celebration and Smoke on the Water would be a welcome public service.
Understandably, there are differences of opinions as to where the new restroom facilities should be located.
A committee comprised of representatives from the city’s planning and parks-and-recreation departments, a downtown merchants’ group and Downtown Washington on the Waterfront identified seven potential sites for the new restrooms. In addition to the sites being evaluated by Roberson, five other options were identified. They include the following:
Most of the committee members support building restrooms at the west end of Stewart Parkway where the temporary restrooms are located. Others prefer the east end of the parkway.
Jennette has said she could “argue that we need one at both ends.”
Last month, Mayor Pro Tempore Doug Mercer voiced concerns that the dialog about the new restrooms moved from one facility to two facilities, then three facilities — one on each end of the waterfront and one in the middle. Mercer said he believes a “central facility would serve all our needs.”
He’s right.
The only thing left to do is choose that centralized site so a priority can become a reality.