Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Toilet talk in Saugatuck

This park in Saugatuck could be the site of new restrooms.
Few topics in Saugatuck city get council members going like public restrooms, and when the topic came up of adding new toilet facilities at the corner of Butler and Water streets, some members became, well, flushed with excitement.

“A lot of businesses say we need another toilet downtown,” said Councilman Henry VanSingel at last month’s study session.

The council is considering changes to a half-acre site to include a memorial to a former police chief, picnic tables and an amphitheater for 80 to 100 people.

And a bathroom.

“I’d like to see something designed around a couple of restrooms there,”  said City Manager Kirk Harrier.

The city has four public restrooms, two on the north end of downtown — one facility is at Butler and Main streets, another on 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.

The city council also wants a unisex restroom with two separate toilets worked into the renovation of the park at Butler and Water streets. Each room would have a changing table, toilet and sink.

(Here’s a link to a story with more details about the park proposal:

Mayor Jane Verplank suggested a restroom for men and two for women.

Harrier was looking at costs, noting that small unisex bathrooms would be easier to heat than the current facility several blocks away on Butler Street.

The 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, said Treasurer Peter Stanislawski.

Now it costs about $100 to $120 a month to heat, he said.

Harrier would like to shut down that restroom in the winter and have a smaller — and cheaper — facility to maintain throughout the snowy season.

Bathrooms have always been a high-profile topic in this tourist town.

In 2008, Saugatuck made international news when a business owner got frustrated at the number of customer complaints about the dirty restrooms on Butler Street. He cleaned the restroom and submitted a bill to the city. The city thanked him by presenting him with the Golden Plunger Award.

Here’s a link to that story:

No comments:

Post a Comment