A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

City may drop restroom project at depot

Written October 6th, 2023 by Hasso Hering

Albany Station in September 2022. There’s no public restroom outside the station.

Nearly four years ago, the city council decided to seek grants to build a small public restroom outside Albany Station. Now city officials  are proposing to give up on the project as too expensive.

There are restrooms inside the station, but in 2017 Amtrak posted notices saying only ticket holders would be given the combination to open the doors. (Later it developed that people waiting for arriving passengers could get access too.)

Also, the station is closed when trains or buses stop there early or late in the day. And sometimes, picking somebody up at the station can turn into a lengthy wait.

Those were among the considerations in January 2020, when the city council agreed to apply to ODOT for a $164,800 federal transit grant to build a two-stall restroom on the station grounds. The city got that grant, as well as another one for $152,000, also administered by ODOT.

In October 2021, nothing had happened on the ground. I was told that the restroom was in the “design and permitting phase,” and this was taking longer than usual because both state and federal funds were involved.

Now the city staff is asking the council to cancel the grants. A staff memo blames escalating construction costs and “unforeseen scope changes due to the historic nature of nearby structures.” The reference is to the depot building itself and the former railrway express building next door.

An updated estimate put the cost of this two-stall restroom at $440,000, and available funding (the grants plus the 20 percent local match) was $389,000.

This makes it “financially unfeasible to proceed,” says the staff memo, which goes to the council Wednesday. Chances are the council will agree and call this project off. (hh)

18 responses to “City may drop restroom project at depot”

  1. Anony Mouse (they-them) says:

    I believe in the value of history.

    Fact: The building and grounds were constructed in 1909 so they fit within the period of significance. Historic contribution and significance are evident.

    So, to maintain historical integrity, the design and materials used to construct the two staller on the grounds must be historically appropriate.

    This means the crapper will be expensive.

    Conclusion: Honor city history and the historical contribution of Thomas Crapper. Spend $440,000 to construct two flush toilets.

    • Cap B. says:

      Yes, For God’s Sake, City People in Charge: Patrons of the station need a place to go to the bathroom. It is as simple as that. Or, maybe the city wants to put in another splash pad or a fountain and have people “go” in that!! Can’t City/CARA cut $440,000 out of money pledged to make downtown and Water Street Mar-a-Lago-like, complete with pink neon lights, and pay for the bathrooms at the train depot?

  2. Rachel La Brasseur says:

    I agree with mouse for once! But tbh I feel like the budget is just an excuse to drop the project. I’m thinking it’s more to do with concerns over giving our increasing and mismanaged homeless population a new place to abuse and use in. I’m bummed out about it either way.

  3. thomas earl cordier says:

    what is wrong with porta-potty. Rent for 1 yr reasonable choice.

    • Anony Mouse (they-them) says:

      Hey, cut the crap.

      We’re not talking about a cheap porta-potty provided by a profit seeking private entity in response to market demand.

      We’re talking about the greater good being paid for by taxpayers.

      No historical compromises are allowed for a building that serves the public and is provided without profit by our benevolent government(s).

      We’ll be a better society after the $440,000 is spent. Hopefully the City Council recognizes this truth.

      • Cap B. says:

        Your “cut the crap” comment was both smile-inducing and right on!!!

      • Birdieken says:

        With property tax bills in the mail, I’ve reached my ability even though the need continues. So if you feel you haven’t paid your fair share, you don’t speak for me.

        • Anony Mouse (they-them) says:

          As you know, property taxes are not levied based on ability to pay.

          City councilors know best how to satisfy the common good. The council possesses knowledge and understanding that are far superior to individual tax payers.

          So pay up, keep quiet, and celebrate that your local government will, hopefully, prioritize spending $440,000 for two historical flush toilets.

          • Cap B. says:

            I’ve caught on, finally. You, Mouse (they, them), are sarcastic and all your writing is in jest.
            What finally woke me up to this fact is your saying the Council is so smart and so superior in knowledge! (Not!)

  4. avidreader69 says:

    I think it is very necessary to have restrooms, people are humans and have biological needs. They are only $50,000 short, I feel they should go for it. I don’t think anyone honestly cares whether it looks ‘historical’ or not. PUT IN THE TOILETS!!

  5. Bill Kapaun says:

    Now that Clay Street next to Target is the defacto city transit center, why not put toilets there?

    It wasn’t that many years ago when we paid BIG $$$ to revamp the AMTRAK station site for a City Bus Center and now we don’t use it as such. We should never have moved from 2nd & Broadalbin!

  6. Molly says:

    I think they should go back to the contractors bidding for the job, and say this is our limit. How can you make it work?

  7. Sonamata says:

    $311,800 for 14 decorative “historic” lights downtown? Yes! $440,000 so people can address a universal human biologic need with dignity? Sorry no money for that :-(

  8. Bessie Johnson says:

    This project is a necessity, not a want. More people are using the train, which doesn’t run on a 9-5 schedule. Since the former Council ok’d this, so much time has passed that of course the cost went up. I hope the current Council also sees the need for this. If not, maybe they aren’t as serious about cutting automotive traffic like they claim.

  9. Dick Olsen says:

    Thanks Hasso for this unfortunate news. How better to show our City of Albany to be an unfriendly jerk-water kind of town than to have no facilities for travelers to relieve themselves and clean up after a long train or bus trip. If this restroom project is shit-canned, we should all be ashamed of our management, Mayor and Council.


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