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Bayside Eliminates Parking Structure Restrooms

By Jorge Casuso

April 25 -- The Bayside board Thursday night unanimously approved a plan to eliminate the bathrooms in four of the six public parking structures and use the $2 million slated for renovating them to fund alternatives.

The board will keep open the bathroom in Structure 5, which already has been renovated, and renovate a second bathroom with the $500,000 already budgeted for the overhaul.

The decision was spurred by the approval earlier this month of the ambitious $92.5 million Downtown Parking Plan, which will replace or renovate all six structures, and by concerns that the restrooms are unsafe and little used by visitors to the area.

"The idea here isn't to make it difficult to go to the bathroom in the Bayside District," said board member John Warfel. "The idea is not only to try to take some of the bathrooms of the bathrooms that cause and attract crime, but also to look forward and use the funds to better serve the general public with user friendly bathrooms."

The alternatives explored by the board's Public Safety Subcommittee include relocating the restrooms to the back of the deep Promenade storefronts or to less expensive buildings around the corner from the popular strip. A proposal to relocate them to the kiosk shared by the police substation at the center of the Promenade has been shelved.

"We don't want to make the bathrooms the entryway to the Promenade," Warfel said, "but they need to be convenient."

O'Connor cautioned that although "the concept sounds reasonable," property owners may not want the bathrooms near their businesses.

O'Connor urged the board to act fast, noting that the council is embarking on hammering out a new budget.

"Put the letter out as soon as possible 'cause we're jumping into the budget sessions," O'Connor said. "That's where we can start discussions." 
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