Chesterton Tribune



Public restroom in Thomas Park: It's officially a bond project

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No one in Chesterton town government likes the portable chemical toilets in Thomas Centennial Park.

That much can be stipulated.

They’re noxious to use, they skew in the direction of low-class, and--in an otherwise lovely and charming venue--they’re an eyesore.

But the Town Council has never found the wherewithal, or for that matter the simple will, to replace the chemical toilets with a more permanent facility.

The council last grappled with the issue four years ago. In 2012 it solicited quotes for a trailer-mounted restroom facility whose specs included direct connection to sanitary sewer and water lines, a baby-changing station, ADA compliance, a wrap-around skirt to conceal the trailer’s wheels, and fold-up steps mounted to the trailer. Low quote: $48,945.

A number of residents, however, very vocally opposed the idea of a trailer-mounted facility, on the ground that it would send the wrong message to visitors. To visitors, that is, who didn’t urgently need to use a restroom.

So the council made a point of actually voting to officially abandon all consideration of trailer-mounted solutions and instead began to investigate the feasibility of Chesterton High School’s building trades students’ erecting a permanent facility as a class project. Park Superintendent Bruce Mathias did a lot of work coordinating the initiative, which ultimately died, however, over legal and liability concerns.

At that point--in the fall of 2012--the council bit the bullet and retained architect Dave Kinel to design a bricks-and-mortar restroom, on the assumption that such a project would cost in the neighborhood of $150,000 to $175,000. Kinel delivered his design in May 2013, with an estimated cost of $226,000.

And that was a nut just too big for the council to crack. Members haven’t publicly discussed the issue in three years and Kinel’s design is still languishing in a drawer somewhere.

Now, though, the Park Board has made a move: it’s formally added the construction of a restroom at Thomas Centennial Park to the list of projects to be funded by last year’s $2-million bond issue.

Putting the project on the list is no guarantee that it will get done. Much depends on the cost of other projects and the availability of funds. But this much is clear: the price tag of the manufactured restroom being installed at Dogwood Park--by Concrete Modular Systems Inc. of St. Petersburg, Fla.--is only $138,140.35, significantly less than the Kinel’s estimate.

As Member Paul Shinn noted at Tuesday’s meeting of the Park Board, “A lot of people are reading the paper about the bond projects--the splash pads, new playground equipment, the new restroom at Dogwood--and they’re getting excited. And they’re wondering about a restroom in Thomas Park.”

Members agreed to see how the manufactured restroom at Dogwood Park looks, works, and wears, after it’s been installed, and then go from there. Construction drawings for that facility are currently being reviewed by Town Engineer Mark O’Dell.

Town Council Member Nate Cobbs, R-4th--who serves as the Park Department’s liaison--agreed with Shinn, that folks in the community are taking notice of the improvements. “The first six months next year, people will see us putting in playground equipment, the splash pad. We’re going to get a lot of momentum and there’s going to be a lot of excitement.”



Posted 11/4/2016




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