Feature Article - November 2008
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Rest Stops

Adding Versatile, Durable, Beautiful Restrooms

By Sue Marquette Poremba

Residents have been known to change their minds when it comes to putting in restrooms. "We had one park we redesigned. We were going to put a restroom in during Phase I, but the neighbors said no, they didn't want one," Fitzpatrick said. The city decided to keep the restroom in the plans for Phase II of the park redesign. "And now the residents are asking us when the restroom is coming. It's a nice playground, a nice park, but when they need to use the bathroom, there isn't one. So now when we do go to Phase II, there isn't going to be an argument."

Fitzpatrick thinks the attitude of the residents might be changing because they are seeing the newer restroom facilities being added in other areas of the city, and the misconceptions about a public restroom are dispelled. "They've seen it in one park, and now they are thinking it would be a good idea to put it in their park, as well," Fitzpatrick said.

Riverbank's perspective is that, while neighborhoods might get a say when it comes to existing parks, any new parks automatically have a restroom installed.

"It's a lot easier to put a restroom in a new park than in an existing one, anyway," Fitzpatrick said. That includes plans for a new dog park and a baseball complex that will each have new restroom facilities.

At its new 10-acre sports complex, Riverbank took a slightly different approach and installed a combination concession stand/restroom. "That was the first one we purchased of that type," Fitzpatrick said. It was also more complicated than the standard restroom installation and has been a learning experience for the city.

"The health department has a lot of requirements in the way the building is to be designed," Fitzpatrick said, "and when we designed this one, there were certain things we had to add in."

There was also no heater or air conditioning, so that had to be included after the installation.

"We've also learned that the community groups who use a building and the designers have two different ideas," Fitzpatrick added.

And perhaps most importantly, they found that the restrooms are not an adequate size, especially when the complex hosts football games. "We thought it would be large enough, but the number of people coming to our events is a lot larger than we expected," she said. "But you learn from these experiences."

Even so, the facility gets heavy use, and the community is grateful for it.

Fitzpatrick added that the city uses two different types of restroom facilities. "We have the regular sewer system restrooms, and then we have the vaulted, which we have along our trail," Fitzpatrick said. "The vaulted facilities can be put into more wooded areas, and that's worked pretty well."