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Hold it! Council delays action on Holder Park bathrooms

For the majority of their meeting Monday night, the Cairo mayor and council discussed the pros and cons of offering city park visitors a place to go to the potty.
Last year, the council included $25,000 for Holder Park restrooms in the fiscal year 2010-2011 operating budget. On Monday night, Cairo City Manager Chris Addleton presented his recommendation to construct the permanent outdoor restroom facilities at the park.
The city has received a bid of $22,158 from GFA Design/Build Contractors of Cairo to construct a restroom facility that is similar in design to the Holder Park Youth Resource Center, which is home to the Boys & Girls Club of Cairo/Grady County.
The exterior would be split faced block and would be covered with a metal roof. It would include both men and womens’ double facilities that are handicapped accessible.
“There are two projects Councilman Cloud probably thought he would never live to see – the elevated water tank on the southwest side and permanent restrooms at Holder Park,” City Manager Addleton commented.
However, Cloud said he was not in favor of permanent restrooms at the southwest Cairo park.
Cloud said that when restroom facilities were available at the park in the past they were constantly vandalized and in need of service or repair. He said that even vendors of portable restroom facilities had been discouraged to rent facilities to the city because of the abuse of the equipment by park patrons.
The veteran city councilman, whose district includes the park area, said he would be in favor of the new restroom facility if it were not accessible at all hours of the day and night.
Councilmen Lannis Thornton and James H. (Jimmy) Douglas agreed that the restroom facilities are needed, but they must to be protected from vandals.
Douglas noted that with as many people using the park they are going to find somewhere to go the restroom, even if it’s outdoors.
City Manager Addleton suggested the restrooms be opened during park hours and locked when the park closes at 11 p.m. All other city parks close at sunset and the Southern Terrace restrooms remain locked at all times except when special events take place at the park.
Councilman Cloud said that many Hispanic residents play soccer at the park, on many nights until 10 or 11 o’clock at night. He noted that park patrons also utilize the basketball courts and a baseball league will soon begin using the park every Sunday for the season.
Councilman Douglas said one possibility is to collect a security deposit from groups using the park and, if  restrooms are not damaged during the authorized use of the park, the deposit could be refunded.
The city manager suggested that the city’s night watchman could be tasked with locking the park restrooms each night.
After much discussion, Mayor Richard VanLandingham requested the city manager develop a recommendation and bring it back to the council within the next 30 days.
“I like the idea of locking them, but we need to determine who will be responsible for them,” the city manager said.
The council could not decide exactly where the new restroom facility would be constructed and Addleton is to include that in his pending recommendation.
According to the city manager, the Holder Park project will be the model for proposed new restroom facilities to be constructed at other city parks in the future.

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