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Council talks public restroom for downtown

October 24, 2018 GMT

A new public restroom may be coming to downtown Beatrice to serve users of the trail system and Big Blue River.

The Beatrice City Council discussed adding a public restroom to the area during its monthly work session where no action was taken. Mayor Stan Wirth said a restroom for the trail system isn’t in the current budget, but is something that could be pursued next year if the council was interested.

Michael Sothan, director of Main Street Beatrice, suggested that the restroom should be located near the Court Street bridge to serve both the trail system and users of the Big Blue River, as the area may someday be an access area to the rivers for canoeing and kayaking.

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“There’s been a long standing conversation of wanting a downtown public restroom,” he said. “Something else that’s been in the works and will probably be coming to you guys at some point in the future is efforts to develop some things on the river with canoe and kayak access. If canoe and kayak access gets developed there’s a good chance that near the Court Street bridge would be one of the access points.”

The location is in the flood plain, which would pose additional challenges to build in the location.

Councilman David Catlin pointed out that existing public restrooms in the parks are victims of vandalism, and suggested that a restroom in a more public place that sees more traffic might not be as targeted.

“One of the concerns that came up was that our restrooms in the parks take a beating,” Catlin said. “I mean they are vandalized all the time, so your location is going to be critical. It could cut down on that amount of damage to it. You know it’s going to get it but if you can minimize that, and I think your parking issue is one of the key things, too.”

Sothan added that while vandalism would likely still be an issue, it may be less of an issue if the restroom is something members of the public can take pride in and use frequently.

“You hope that people will take pride in it if you have more people using it, the trail folks, maybe it’s some folks down there fishing and using the river to kayak and also things downtown,” Sothan said. “In a perfect world you would think that maybe it would have a little more pride around it and it wouldn’t be hidden off in a corner of a park and would avoid some of those issues. I think it would be crazy to think that it would have zero over the course of its life.”

No cost estimates were given for the restroom, and it was proposed the city could pursue grants to build the facility.

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