One of the items requested in a recent survey of needs for the downtown area was a public restroom. At a recent meeting, Public Works Director Mike Svaby brought a request before council to approve the purchase of a prefabricated restroom at a cost of $155,000 that would include two unisex stalls that would be placed in Memorial Park, across from the Milford Public Library.
“Public Works has reviewed alternatives for the purchase including prefab units, as well as standard engineered, designed block buildings and found that the prefabricated unit, the Cortez, manufactured by CXD is the most economical and effective unit available,” Svaby said. “In addition, finance has reviewed the FY 24 capital budget, as approved by council to confirm the available funding. Finance also reviewed lease terms on the unit offered by the vendor to determine that the outright purchase of the unit is preferred to the lease based on imputed lease rate, compared to alternative use funds. In short, we’re recommending the six-unit CXT unit be purchased for $155,000 and we’re here for authorization to award that purchase order.”
Councilman Todd Culotta questioned whether two stalls was adequate, especially when events were held downtown.
“What we found is that when we have an event, there’s not a whole lot of options,” Svaby said. “You would think there’s a whole lot of restrooms out there so no one has to stand in line but we’ve talked to Brad [Dennehy, Director of Parks and Recreation] about that. But we found that single standing restroom with two units, two unisex units that can be used at the same time, men’s and ladies would be sufficient. Now, if we had an event downtown, we may put additional disposable restrooms.”
Councilman Culotta stated that he understood that additional temporary restrooms could be added but was not sure a two-stall option was suitable.
“What’s difference between 20 by 20 and have a little bit more capacity and I know it costs a little bit more but well, we don’t want to…obviously we just talked about 4,000 people being downtown for an event,” Councilman Culotta said. “We want to have events like that. I mean, we’ve got this event, we got the Ladybug Festival, we have a variety of other events that go on during the year and so it’s a great start. I mean, I like it. If this is what everybody wants. I’m in support of it. I would like to see something a little larger though.”
Svaby explained that they were not looking at the unit for peak use, but more for a bathroom that was available every day for those who are in the downtown area. He stated that the city would augment with additional temporary bathrooms for events, but this would be for everyday use. Councilman Culotta stated that this was the first time a bathroom was going downtown, and he felt it should be done right from the beginning. Councilman Jason James asked what was discussed as far as capacity when the funds were added to the budget.
“I think I could speak to that, Councilman, and initially when they were budgeted, we looked at the Can Do playground with the two stalls out there,” James Puddicombe, City Engineer, said. “We had budgeted, I believe, for a two stall restroom in the first grouping which is what Mike is presenting and there’s another set of two restrooms, I believe, it’s next year’s budget as well. So ,we had budgeted for a set of two stalls this year, and then two stalls next year, potentially to go closer to like Bicentennial Park or somewhere to be studied down the line.”
Svaby explained that interns worked on the project over the summer, but their primary focus was on where to locate the bathrooms. Based on the floodplain downtown, it was determined that the location in Memorial Park was best suited. Puddicombe stated that they then looked at stick-built options versus self-contained options and found that the self-contained option was the best solution.
“I think another thing you can run into here, too, is because these are single rooms. I mean first of all, during an event or during busy times, going in there and having somebody beat on the door because they don’t know it’s locked and they want to get in or whatever,” Councilman Culotta said. “Sometimes that’s inconvenient, but also should they go in there and lock themselves in there. It might take an hour for us to figure that out. Whereas you know, public multi-use restrooms are always accessible and still creates all the privacy you could ever need. So back to Councilman James’s point. Right here you have listed $152,000 for this unit. And you do have $5,000 in year four, for a connection to the utilities and some other things in here. We create that budget for a reason to give us what we need. Do appreciate this, but I think we’re under designing.”
Councilman Brian Baer recalled that council requested four or five stalls. Puddicombe stated that there were several options discussed as to the number of stalls.
“We went out and did look at a few of the events. The largest event I think the most that I had counted out there was about seven porta potties for the whole event,” Puddicombe said. “This smallest of events, so like the Ladybug Festival, there was only about three. So, with this set of two and an additional set of two, we presumed that would hold most events as in mind for future. Keep in mind that any additional sizing has additional maintenance costs as well.”
Councilman Mike Boyle asked what the life of the prefabricated option was and Svaby stated that it was not clear, but that the building was not made of steel. Instead, it was created from carved concrete so that it matched with the pump station that was in the same parcel. When it was completed, it would appear to be brick like the pump house. Councilman Dan Marabello asked if the units were self-cleaning.
“Well, we did discuss that with the manufacturer. So we wanted to be able to go in there and sort of hose everything down, right,” Svaby said. “You know, make it really easy to maintain. And so, we’re about to buy what that involves on the inside. So, we went in to do that. But he didn’t want to do it. So, we set that out. So, we could so we could go in there and hose everything down as maintenance. We would buy it as low maintenance.” Councilman Marabello asked if that meant it would need to be hosed down manually or would the unit do it on its own and Svaby stated that Public Works would need to maintain the restroom. Svaby also stated that both restrooms would have changing tables.
“I guess we still haven’t gotten to the root of quantity of what we’re discussing here,” Councilman James said. “What would four stalls costs as opposed to two stalls? Is it double? Is it mean really?”
Svaby stated that he could come back with more options.
“There might be some additional costs there just because it’s in the floodplain. It has to be elevated out of the floodplain. So, there might be a little bit of fill not too substantial seven inches,” Puddicombe said. “But the wider we go, the closer we get to the river, the more we have to fill so just something to be cautious of there and we are somewhat limited on space and we would have to go wider because we can’t come out any just because the pickleball courts got shifted a little bit there’s not any room to come towards the road. So, whatever we put in it’s going to be linear, more so just keep in mind walking down the road. You don’t necessarily want a really long bathroom coming down the street. So, we want to keep in mind that length. So, four probably would be close to the maximum.”
Council voted 6-0 to table the request until additional information on a larger bathroom could be researched.
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