Budget cuts close all but 1 park restroom on Westside
As many residents and tourists are unfortunately aware, public restrooms on the Westside are not easy to find - open ones, that
Sondermann, Thorndale, Vermijo and Westmoor parks all have public restrooms, but none are open this year. They are among 19 out of 50 parks with restrooms citywide that have been closed because of budget cuts, according to Kurt Schroeder, Colorado Springs Parks maintenance manager
“I had six full-time and 50 seasonal workers eliminated, and that's huge,” he said. “So we (parks staff) sat down and decided what could we not not do.” After evaluating and prioritizing the various maintenance tasks, the decision was made that certain work, such as mowing and field grooming, were essential, while others, such as keeping all public restrooms open, were not.
“I've had a fair number of complaints,” Schroeder said. “People are disappointed the restrooms are closed and are not happy to use porta johns (in parks where they're provided).”
One of the problems for City Parks is the simple manpower issue of closing all such facilities on a daily basis at night and reopening them in the morning. If restrooms were kept open 24 hours, transients would probably camp out in them, Schroeder pointed out. Also, the more restrooms are kept open, the likelihood increases of extra maintenance because of backups or vandalism, he noted.
He does not expect matters to improve soon. “I've gotten direction for the 2005 budget to plan on the same funding level as this year,” he said.
How did he decide which restrooms to close? Part of the staff decision-making addressed uses - for instance, all sports complex restrooms are open. It was also decided to keep “high profile” ones open, such as those in the Garden of the Gods and Monument Valley Park. The restrooms in “neighborhood parks,” such as those on the Westside, are “typically closed,” Schroeder said.
The one Westside park with open restrooms in the daytimes is Bancroft Park. However, the park's facilities (beside the bandshell) have old plumbing, so, to avoid a potentially “ugly” overload from overuse, Schroeder said they are locked up during major events such as Territory Days.
To save on labor costs, City Parks provides a restroom key to the organizers of smaller, ongoing summer events in Bancroft such as the Saturday Farmers' Market and the every-other-Saturday craft fair. It is unknown if that's why on a Saturday in mid- July, according to an angry tourist who called the Westside Pioneer, the Bancroft restrooms were not open (and the park's porta-johns seemed uninviting).
“We got in the car and went to Manitou,” the caller proclaimed.
Westside Pioneer Article