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Feature Article - November 2007

Dirty Business

What Your Restrooms Say About Your Park

By Dana Carman


FOR MOST PEOPLE, the first choice in bathrooms would be their own. But unless people never leave their homes, they're more than likely going to have to use a public restroom at some point. Head outdoors to a park for a few hours or on an overnight camping trip, and urgency can take on a new meaning if a restroom facility isn't available or usable.

L
et's be honest, when in a remote location and nature calls, so to speak, most people will make what they can't find. However, in a more populated park area, restroom facilities are more than a bonus—they're a necessity. Especially when you consider that a park's usage can be influenced by the availability of a restroom, which is also why restroom design has come a long way, baby. No longer the cement blocks of our youths, today's restroom facilities are designed to be durable, vandal-resistant and downright pretty. And with so many options on the market today, there's no reason you can't find something to meet your needs, and those of the users of your parks.


Pre-Fabulous

You made the decision to install the new restroom at your park, so what are your options? Of course, you can hire an architect to design a building and a contractor to carry out the plans. Many people do that, especially if there are specific needs the building has to meet. But in a lot of cases, you may be able to utilize a prefabricated building that is attractive, vandal-resistant and can be made to look and feel the way you want it to. Not to mention, it costs less.

Prefabricated buildings are created off-site and then installed on your site in a matter of hours or days. According to Brian DeBreceny, parks and facilities manager with the Town of Sahuarita, Ariz., the decision to go with a prefabricated building in Anamax Park had a lot to do with the ability to modify the company's basic design to accommodate the park's needs.

There was already an existing facility in the park that was built a few years prior—a recreation center that has a restroom in it. It was important to DeBreceny and Ken Ventura, parks project manager, that the exterior of this new restroom match the older building's exterior.

"I think that parks have an appearance—either a color scheme or style—that you want to continue on with at the site," Ventura said. "So it was important to continue that whole theme throughout the park. It's important to how you're recognized. You go to a town park and there's a certain feel and look at that facility that you'd like to continue so people know they're at your site."

Prefabricated buildings generally involve concrete but can also incorporate other materials. Concrete has also come a long way and can be precast to look like other materials, such as wood or brick.

"Building materials continue to evolve, and various styles of architecture are available," said Dave Sheldon, communications manager for a prefabricated building manufacturer. So have the types of buildings, which are available as multi-use facilities as more parks are seeking restroom and concession facilities in one unit. In Anamax Park, a new prefabricated, multi-use restroom and concession building is being installed between the football fields, and the youth football team often creates a makeshift concession stand, so it makes sense to offer the user group what they need.

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