Public restrooms on city agendaPublished 8:44pm Saturday, June 23, 2012
With restrooms at Festival Park now a reality, the city is turning its attention to the west end of the downtown waterfront for similar amenities. The west-end facilities would be part of a new dock master’s office called for in the redevelopment and revitalization strategy adopted by the city in 2009. The strategy was developed under the auspices of the Citizens for Revitalization.
“We now have a grant for bathrooms and boaters’ facilities at the other end,” said Ross Hamory, who was a member of Citizens for Revitalization, at the dedication of Festival Park on June 15. “By going through the community process, the planning, the public hearings and working with the City Council, it got us focused on the waterfront. It developed a plan for us to move forward. This is the first phase of the plan. The second phase is right behind it. Hopefully, within another four or five months we will be breaking ground on the other end.”
A design concept for public restrooms and a dock master’s facility at the west end of the waterfront promenade was developed for the purpose of seeking grants to pay for the building that would house the restrooms and dock master’s facility. The design of that building attempts to replicate the former Pamlico Point Lighthouse.
The city spent about seven years discussing the need for permanent restrooms in the Harbor District and where to locate them. Recommended sites for the restrooms came and went. In October 2008, the council narrowed the list of possible locations to three sites — where the temporary bathrooms are located, the public parking area next to the Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce and relocating the former Cottage Service Station on West Second Street to a place on Stewart Parkway and converting it into public bathrooms.
Eventually, the Festival Park site and site at the west end of the Stewart Parkway promenade were selected.
“The city’s been trying for a number of years to put bathrooms at the west end of Stewart Parkway,” said John Rodman, director of planning and development for the city. “When we put those restrooms in in that are in down there now in the mobile facility, they were supposed to be temporary. Temporary turned into longer than what the city wanted.”
Rodman explained the grant path taken by the city for funds for the bathrooms and dock master’s station.
“We put in some grant applications in the past — some have been funded, some have not been funded. One that we got funded, we had some money, but we weren’t quite ready to do it yet. So, we turned that money back in. When LandDesign came in 2009, they once again indicated that some restrooms needed to go in the west end of the parkway,” Rodman said.
The city submitted another application for a Coastal Area Management Act grant through the N.C. Division of Coastal Management, Rodman noted.
“One of their grants that is available is for public access. Public access can include boating facilities for all types of boaters. So with that, we decided not only to have public restrooms but also boater facilities as far as boater showers, laundry facilities, that type of thing, Also, we decided since we have a dock master, we would include the dock master as part of that facility. We put that application in 2010 for the restrooms,” Rodman said.
“About six months ago, we received an award letter saying we had been awarded the money. We had put in for a $200,000 grant, which is what we received,” he said.
Rodman said that grant, combined with money from another grant and city dollars, would be used for the project, which is in the city’s capital-improvements plan.
“We think we’ve got some of the funding opportunities in place to do the bathroom and dock-master facilities. What we are waiting for now are the contracts and grant agreement from the state. That’s usually the final step you have to do. Of course, the City Council has to approve the contract and authorize the city manager to sign the contract. That’s usually the last step, so that’s what we are waiting for,” Rodman said.
“What I am going to do Monday night is bring the City Council up to date with where we are,” Rodman said.