Friday, December 28, 2012

Report endorses 24-hour freestanding restroom facilities

In the interest of cleanliness and public health, Cincinnati is looking into possibly installing 24-hour public restroom facilities in and around Downtown.

In a recent report to City Council, Director of Public Services Michael Robinson said that the hours of access to City facilities are limited by safety and security issues, which can only be addressed by additional staffing.

"This has been reaffirmed by the constant damage and vandalism experienced at the Fountain Square public restrooms," he said. "In addition to vandalism, standard public restrooms throughout the area often located in parks have been the center of illicit activities that thereby render them unused for their intended purpose."

Freestanding facilities modeled after the "Portland Loo" would eliminate many of these problems and would be a more viable option, he said.

The Oregon city installed its first unit in 2008 and now has six units in service. The City has contracted with a local non-profit organization to provide daily janitorial services and maintenance at an annual cost of $14,500 per unit.

A stainless steel design with a protective coating helps keep graffiti away, and bars at the top and bottom of the structure enable police to ensure that there's no more than one set of feet inside.

"Their experience has been positive and they are pleased with the Loo's performance and citizen response," he said. "Portland's model appears to have been designed to avoid many of the problems caused by abuse and misuse that had been experienced by previous cities which had undertaken comparable programs."

The units do come at a cost – between $90,000 and $100,000 apiece. An additional $25,000 to $30,000 per unit is needed for shipping, site preparation, and sewer and water connections.

The Findlay Market area has been identified as having the most immediate need for a freestanding restroom facility.

Funding has not yet been identified.

Photos courtesy of the City of Portland