Feature Article - November 2008
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Rest Stops

Adding Versatile, Durable, Beautiful Restrooms

By Sue Marquette Poremba

Functional Fit

When the city of Riverbank in California decided to add new restroom facilities, Recreation Director Sue Fitzpatrick said vandalism was definitely a consideration.

"We want some as graffiti- and vandal-proof as possible," Fitzpatrick said. "Staff time is expensive. The more time our staff has to go back to repair or paint over something, that's costly. So if there is something that wipes down easily or doesn't break as often, that saves us money in the long run."

In addition, something that can be kept looking nice with little extra effort is a facility that will get used by the public, and that's the whole idea behind public restroom areas.

Riverbank has more than 50 acres of park lands, according to city project coordinator Laura Graybill. While not all the parks have a restroom, an increasing number are being added. Graybill said that part of her job is to figure out the restroom needs of a particular park: how many stalls the facility will need and that they are ADA-compliant.

"We want to make sure the restrooms fit into the design of the park," Graybill said.

While most of the facilities are basic designs that can simply be picked from the manufacturer's offerings, there have been a few custom orders, including a restroom with a shower and an eye-wash station at the public works department.

When it comes to actual placement of the restrooms, Fitzpatrick said the facilities have to be strategically placed. "You don't want them too close to the playground or too close to the road, but you don't want it too far away," she said. "You want it to be visible."

The neighborhood surrounding the park often has a say on whether or not there will be a restroom, Fitzpatrick added. "Some neighborhoods don't want restrooms there, but that, I think, comes more from the older restrooms that were way too large," she said. The larger the restroom building, she added, the easier it is for mischief to happen inside.

Riverbank found a company that offers smaller-sized facilities. "They are easily put into a park and look nice," Fitzpatrick said.