Potty fight bubbles to surface

The Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association plans to raise a little bit of a stink over bathrooms.

The group of merchants plans to ask the Town Council to reopen the town’s public restrooms during festivals on a limited basis.

“It is problematic,” said Vickie Chambers, executive director of the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association.

This issue was raised during the Musselfest recap at the group’s March meeting.

Chambers said that having the bathrooms closed completely during festivals like Musselfest, which draws thousands of locals and visitors each year, has caused issues — particularly for mothers seeking a place to change their children or to nurse, for those with special needs and for other unique situations.

While the organizers of large festivals are responsible for bringing in sufficient port-a-potties, Chambers said usage of the brick-and-mortar bathrooms needs to be an option.

This year at Musselfest, a port-a-potty that was handicap accessible with a changing station was available to visitors.

But Chambers feels the community needs more.

“We feel like we would benefit for them to be open for limited use,” Chambers said.

“I appreciate it’s a problem with their septic system, but we need to compromise in limited situations.”

Chamber director Lynda Eccles said that the bathrooms have traditionally been open year-round for residents and tourists, but closed during large festivals because of capacity issues.

“The reason they don’t have them open is purely for sewer issues,” Eccles said.

Mayor Nancy Conard said Tuesday that the city’s bathrooms are available to event organizers if they wish to use them, but they must be responsible for the cost of maintenance if — or when — the bathrooms become clogged.

Conard said that most organizers opt to go with the port-o-potties because they are easier to manage.

“Almost every time we have an incident when someone does something stupid and clogs them up,” Conard said. “They’re not super commercial grade and can have problems.”

When maintenance is necessary, the city must bring in an off-duty city worker and pay them overtime for coming in on the weekend. The cost can add up quick if they are required to come out more than once, Conard said.

That said, Conard said she was open to discussing a compromise with the Waterfront Association.

“It’s a possibility,” Conard said. “I’d be glad to do that.”

Chambers said it is the association’s plan to bring a proposal to the Town Council for consideration at a future meeting.


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