Centralia Council Briefed on Downtown Restroom Concept

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Shoppers in downtown Centralia could soon have a new place to “go.”

Twin Transit has proposed partnering with the City of Centralia to install a prefabricated public restroom facility downtown, near the train depot and Pine Street Plaza, to benefit shoppers and transit drivers.

Public Works Director Kim Ashmore at Tuesday night’s city council meeting presented some concepts, the proposed location, security options and garnered feedback from councilors on the proposal. Twin Transit says it will cover 50% of the purchasing cost for the double-roomed facility, which is about $60,565, Ashmore said.

While councilors appeared interested in the concept, some voiced concerns over the potential for vandalism and keeping the facility clean. Ashmore has proposed adding a locking mechanism — either keycode or an automatic hourly system — to the facility, which would be connected to electricity and the city’s sewer system.

Councilor Sue Luond said she thinks it would be a “wonderful idea for the city of Centralia, but I have real reservations,” referring to some heavy vandalism that occurred on some portable toilets in a nearby park.

Councilor Rebecca Staebler said she’d visited communities over the summer that had clean, often-used public restrooms. She suggested Ashmore engage with those municipal employees about how they acknowledge and address concerns.

“We all, as downtown businesses, get people all the time asking ‘do you have a restroom that we can use?’ And there’s no place to send them. And it’s horrible; to have somebody who’s coming to our community with family, wanting to shop, wanting to walk, wanting to experience our downtown and there’s no place to go to the bathroom,” said Staebler, who owns a downtown business.

Staebler, who chairs the Twin Transit board, said the facility will likely get a pretty consistent stream of traffic with transit drivers using it often, which may deter vandalism.

Councilor Kelly Smith Johnston said she “very much supports the idea,” though would like to hear more about what the maintenance and future costs would look like.

Mayor Max Vogt and Councilor Elizabeth Cameron recommended the city consider possibly adding on to the building to house either a carport for street vendors or businesses, or installing a small tourism information center.

As consideration for the project moves forward, discussion will continue on who would take ownership of the facility, who would maintain it and what future capital costs there would be. Council also requested Ashmore reach out to local businesses for feedback.