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Restroom required near Rotary Fountain

Parks department to install temporary trailer close to pad

New water features are coming to Riverfront Park in the next few weeks.

But they’re not the kind the city needed a property tax increase to build – they’re portable sinks and toilets to meet public health requirements for the Rotary Fountain.

The city parks department will install a $50,000 restroom trailer by July 1 to meet state health code that requires restrooms within 100 feet of splash pads like the Rotary Fountain. A permanent structure is expected within two years.

Currently, the closest restroom to the fountain is in the Looff Carrousel building, but it is 113 feet from the fountain and is not accessible to wheelchair users.

The state rules were created to protect the public from illnesses caused by fecal contamination, said Steve Main, a health district environmental health specialist.

“We wanted to make sure the restrooms were located close to the fountain, as they would be for all pools,” Main said. “Disinfection is all the more important in a fountain.”

That’s because in the event of a “fecal incident,” contamination in a splash pad with recirculated water is less diluted than in a pool, Main said.

The rules were created in 2004, Main said. But when the Rotary Fountain opened in 2005 park officials persuaded Spokane Regional Health District officials to delay bathroom requirements for three years. In 2008, the district extended that delay until the end of this month.

Under health code, the city must add a restroom for each sex with at least one toilet, sink and diaper-changing table. Showers aren’t required.

The parks department agreed last year to pay $10,000 to NAC Architecture to design permanent restrooms for the fountain. Park Director Leroy Eadie said NAC principal architect Steve McNutt, a former park board member, worked on the project. The city did not seek competitive bids for the work because the cost was under $50,000, Eadie said.

“We paid for (McNutt’s) staff, but he donated his own time,” Eadie said.

The firm considered adding on to the carrousel building so that restrooms would be within 100 feet and also created plans for a separate restroom structure. But the park board rejected a permanent building when construction estimates reached nearly $100,000.

“It was a little expensive for what we were getting,” said Park Board President Ross Kelley. He added that he’s hopeful that the trailer is used at the fountain for a “maximum” of two years.

Officials considered renting a restroom trailer, but decided to buy because it could be used elsewhere once a permanent restroom is built, Eadie said.

Eadie said a permanent solution may solve other problems in the southern part of the park. That could include building restrooms as part of a new home for the Looff Carrousel or expanding the current structure, which first served as the Bavarian beer garden during Expo ’74.

Riverfront Park Manager Craig Butz said the roof of the carousel building has leaked for several years. He added that the historic carousel would be better preserved in a climate-controlled structure. A new or expanded building could house enlarged refreshment and souvenir areas and consolidate other park services, such as ticketing for the gondola, train ride and carousel, Butz said.

Eadie said the department may begin creating a new development plan for Riverfront Park driven by recent developments such as the scuttling of plans to build a science museum, the purchase of the former YMCA and the need for fountain restrooms.

The most recent Riverfront Park plan, written in 2001, never was adopted by the Park Board.

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