If you’ve been wondering why Albany park restrooms have been closed this summer, the reason, like for so much else these days, is the new coronavirus.
City Manager Peter Troedsson pointed this out in his weekly report to the council Friday. He said rules issued by the Oregon Health Authority require “outdoor recreation organizations” such as the Albany Parks Department to clean public restrooms in parks at least twice a day, which the city can’t afford to do this year.
“Each summer,” Troedsson wrote the council, “we bring on seasonal staff to tackle restrooms. Unfortunately, we do not have the finances this year to fund these positions. Our regular full-time staff are dealing with more garbage and maintenance needs than usual as record numbers of people use the parks during this time. Due to layoffs, unfilled positions, and the lack of resources with which to hire seasonal staff, the Parks and Recreation Department is running on a skeleton crew. Contracted portable toilets are the best we’re able to do at this time, and future budget constraints will exacerbate the situation.”
The Health Authority issued its statewide guidance for parks on July 1. It said: “Thoroughly clean restroom facilities at least twice daily and, to the extent possible, ensure adequate sanitary supplies (soap, toilet paper, hand sanitizer) throughout the day. Restroom facilities that cannot be cleaned twice daily should be kept closed or a sign should be posted stating that the restroom is unable to be cleaned twice daily.”
That guidance raises another question, though, doesn’t it?
At Takena Landing and Bowman parks, where the Oregon Marine Board paid for new restroom buildings some years ago, the city set up portable outhouses. It did the same at Bryant Park and, well before the Covid disaster struck, at several other parks as well.
The question is why the twice-daily cleaning requirement doesn’t apply to the porta-potties. And some of those outhouses — not the ones at Takena Landing Sunday, though — occasionally look like they haven’t been serviced, let alone thoroughly cleaned, for a week.
You’d think that permanent restrooms with a supply of running water and sinks would be less of a potential problem during the pandemic than the portable substitutes. But maybe the Health Authority didn’t think of that. (hh)