City seeks restroom grants

Published 11:38 pm Friday, June 18, 2010

Contributing Editor

Once again, Washington is seeking grant funding to help pay for building permanent restrooms at the east end and west end of its waterfront between the N.C. Estuarium and the west end of Stewart Parkway.
The east-end restrooms would be near the proposed Festival Park next to the Estuarium. The west-end facilities would part of a new dock master’s office called for in the revitalization and redevelopment strategy approved by the city last year.
Three other times the city has sought such grant funding, only to return the money to the state.
Mayor Pro Tempore Bobby Roberson, during the council’s meting Monday, said if the city is successful in its fourth attempt to obtain grant funding to pay for permanent public restrooms in its Harbor District, it must follow through on that project. Returning the money back to the state for a fourth time could hurt the city’s chances at being awarded other state grants ins the future, he said.
During the meeting, the council approved applying for a Coastal Area Management Act Public Beach and Waterfront Access Grant to develop public restrooms and dock-master facilities at the western end of Stewart Parkway. The facilities would serve the public, including boaters.
If awarded a grant, the city would be required to provide funding equivalent to 10 percent of the project cost.
The city also is pursuing a Boating Infrastructure Grant from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. That grant, if received, also would be used to help build public restrooms and showers. Such funding may only be used to meet the needs of the transient boater population, or roughly 25 percent of the project cost.
John Rodman, director of the city’s Planning and Development Department, said the BIG grant would be secondary to the CAMA grant, with the city able to use the BIG grant as part of its “match” requirement to receive the CAMA grant.
Rodman, during a brief interview Thursday, said the exact amount of the grants the city could be awarded is not known at this time, but they are expected to cover most of the estimated $300,000 cost of the project.
Because the city is prepared to commit some of its money toward the project, that enhances the city’s effort to obtain grant funding for the project, Rodman said. The $300,000 amount is a “ballpark” figure because the project has not yet been put out for bids, he said.
The city has spent about five years discussing the need for permanent restrooms in the Harbor District and where to locate them. Recommended sites for the restrooms have come and gone. In October 2008, the council narrowed the list of possible locations to three sites — where the temporary bathrooms are located, the public parking area next to the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce and relocating the former Cottage Service Station on West Second Street to a place on Stewart Parkway and converting it into public bathrooms.
Eventually, the Festival Park site and site at the west end of the Stewart Parkway promenade were selected.