A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

City parks and portables — just one question

Written August 30th, 2020 by Hasso Hering

At Takena Landing Sunday afternoon, the sign says restrooms are closed but doesn’t say why. (Happily, the missing-child posters are outdated; she’s been found.)

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)

The portable toilets outside the closed restroom building at Takena Landing on Sunday.







3 responses to “City parks and portables — just one question”

  1. Jessi says:

    I would be curious to know the cost of the daily rentals for the port a pottys vs. the cost of cleaning the existing bathrooms. Also, other cxt types of bathrooms around the county have posted signs leaving the decision to enter the facility up to each individual and at their own discretion. I feel after 5 months of covid mandates we can all make an educated decision about entering a bathroom or not.

  2. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    You’d think that the City would have enough for cleaning permanent & portable toilets given the numerous sources of revenue pouring into the General Fund. Evidently clean toilets are not as high a priority as maintaining an already bloated staff.

    And looking at the numerous ways city government gouges its residents (property tax, privilege tax, state liquor tax, state cigarette tax, marijuana tax, hotel room tax, numerous fees, numerous licenses, levies, fines, and interest on cash/investments, et al), you’d think some money could be re-routed to the Parks & Rec department for toilet cleaning.

    And I haven’t even mentioned the $1.2M this tax year that CARA will skim from the General Fund. Taking a cue from the “defund the police” mob, perhaps a “defund CARA” movement should be started to free up money for basic services like keeping city toilets clean during a pandemic.

    Hasso wants to point the finger at the Oregon Health Authority. I have no problem with that. But he neglected to give a richly deserved middle finger to city government.

  3. Mark H. Avery says:

    Maybe We could do this too !
    Virus relief funds give Astoria bathrooms a break:
    Astoria has discovered it can use state coronavirus relief funds to improve the cleaning of the city’s restrooms through at least the end of the year.



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