Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bathroom Break in Douglas

Beery Field in Douglas at last year's Oktoberfest. The infield — shown here in dirt — will be planted with grass this spring as part of the park renovation project. The dugouts, at left, will be refurbished and the backstop painted.

The grass will be greener on the other side of the Douglas public restrooms this summer — and maybe through the winter, too.

A new grass infield will be seeded in April at the Beery Field baseball diamond at Center and Main streets, Ryan Kilpatrick, director of community development for Douglas, told the city council Monday night. The work by Grounds Management Solutions will cost $7,800.

The upgrade will be paid for through the money raised in the last two Oktoberfest celebrations.

The dugouts will be refurbished and the backstop painted, Kilpatrick said.

The field is the home of the Douglas Dutchers vintage base ball team that plays 19th-century style baseball throughout the summer.

During the summer, those who watch the games or play on the adjoining playground have easy access to the public restrooms in the park, but not when the cold weather hits. The city closes the restrooms in the fall, a practice some city council members say discourages tourists in the off-season.

“If we want to promote Douglas as a city, having a restroom they can use is absolutely essential,” said Councilwoman Jane Mayer about tourists.

“We need to have the ability ... to have heated restrooms in this town,” said Councilwoman Martha Hoexter.

Mayor Jim Wiley suggested the council consider the year-round restrooms when the council draws up its budget for next year.

In 2006, the downtown development authority estimated the cost of improvements to the bathrooms, including making them compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and adding a heating a system, at $40,000.

In Saugatuck

Bathrooms are also on the minds of Saugatuck council members.

The council is looking at renovating the park at the corner of Butler and Culver streets where the information booth is now.  A small unisex restroom facility is part of the plans — and would be cheaper to heat than the year-round facility several blocks away on Butler Street.

That facility used to rack up $600 to $700 monthly heating bills until the city made some modifications in the ventilation system and lowered the heat to about 60 degrees. Now it costs about $100 to $120 a month to heat.

The city has four public restrooms, two on the north end of downtown — one facility is at Butler and Main streets, another at Water Street at Wicks Park — one on the west side of the Kalamazoo River at the foot of Mount Baldhead and another at Oval Beach on Lake Michigan. Only the Butler Street restroom stays open in the winter.

In December, the council began looking at ways to finance a new restroom at Coghlin Park on Culver Street. The park is becoming more popular and is the site of jazz concerts and Waterfront Film Festival events. Estimates put the cost at $50,000 to $80,000.

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