A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

City may seek grants for station restroom

Written December 2nd, 2019 by Hasso Hering

That’s a discouraging sign (as seen on Monday) if you’re at Albany Station and have to go.

The details are still undecided, but if the city council follows through on the general sentiment it showed on Monday, Albany Station may finally get a public restroom accessible around the clock.

There was no vote, but the mayor and five councilors present — Bill Coburn was not there — indicated they agreed with a staff proposal to prepare applications for grants that would pay for constructing and then maintaining a public toilet on the grounds of the train station and transit center.

The plan was proposed by Chris Bailey, the director of public works operations, and Mark Bernard, the Salem-based regional transit coordinator for the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Their point was that people expect a train and bus station to have an available restroom. But in recent years, because of problems with vandalism, the restrooms inside the station have been reserved for Amtrak ticket holders. And the waiting room itself is often closed when people wait for trains and buses.

Bernard says the need for an accessible restroom will only increase as various bus services, including the Benton County buses from Newport and the Linn County service from Sweet Home, increase the number of their Albany stops.

Mayor Sharon Konopa sounded skeptical about the addition of a restroom on the station grounds, citing the expense of maintenance. But grant funds may cover that.

Councilors said that whatever is built should be self-cleaning and need little maintenance. Somebody mentioned the “Portland Loo” as an example. (Look it up here.)

The idea seems to be for a small building with two unisex restroom stalls. There was talk of making sure the design fits in with the style of the historic station. Bernard told me the restroom should be built near the station itself because the buses and trains usually stop for only a few minutes.

Initial costs may run around $100,000, and getting the project done may take a year or so. We’ll know more when the council receives and then submits actual applications for the state or federal grants that are said to be available for this kind of thing. (hh)

The toilet would join benches, shelters, bike racks and lockers on the station plaza.


5 responses to “City may seek grants for station restroom”

  1. My Real Name John Hartman says:

    Best check with the Landmarks Commission. Wouldn’t want the Loo to be out of historical spec.

  2. avidreader69 says:

    It’s about time. Humans (and all animals) have basic needs. Sometimes unexpected needs. I cannot imagine a depot of any sort without restrooms available for public use.

    • J. Jacobson says:

      You need not bother imagining. Albany has done this for some time in it’s never-ending effort to drive all of humanity’s messiness underground… where polite people don’t have to witness it.

      • Rick Staggenborg, MD says:

        It’s not a very effective way of “hiding the mess,” as anyone who lives in an area where the unhoused frequent can tell you. It would be nice if the city could find a way of providing some sort of bathroom facilities to them, since they have little choice now but to use whatever private space is available.

        At the very least, the Mayor could quit harassing the First Christian Church about the port-a-potty on their own property.

        • Ray Kopczynski says:

          City Council just recently granted the church permission to use/maintain the port-a-potty…


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