The Downtown Mall is 46 years old and remains a destination for locals and out-of-towners alike. One thing has been constant for most of that time.
“There [has] not been in the history of the Mall any truly accessible public restrooms that are proximate to where people are when they’re on the Mall,” said Chris Engel, the city’s economic development director. “Prior to COVID the transit center which is at the east end of the mall and it had some public facilities on the lower level.”
Engel said those restrooms will eventually come back but plans are underway for a new location as he announced to the Economic Development Authority’s Board of at their meeting on October 11.
“What we’re talking about today is a lease with a private entity that owns York Place which is the walking arcade if you will,” Engel said.
Engel said the EDA will enter into a one-year lease to provide two rest rooms for public use. There will be signs pointing people to them.
“This will hopefully alleviate a long-term kind of issue with Downtown Mall merchants, visitors, etcetera, not having access to a publicly available bathroom,” Engel said.
York Place will maintain the facility for $5,000 a month and will be open as long as York Place is open.
“He maintains them and cleans them, stocks them as needed, and otherwise keeps an eye on them,” Engel said.
If the paperwork is signed, the space will be ready for public use on November 1.
One member of the EDA Board of Directors had some concerns about being personally named in a potential lawsuit.
“I would want to hear from CEDA’s attorney about this to make sure that if something terrible happens and you’re the named tenant here as a group, what is the worst case scenario here,” said Addison Barnhardt.
Barnhardt said he was also concerned that people will vandalize or destroy the bathrooms and the city will have to repair them.
“I think we should try it, I’m not against it,” Barnhardt said. “But I do see some concerns here.”
Engel said there are clauses in the lease to allow the city to end the pilot if necessary. The EDA voted to enter into the agreement at the meeting.
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